Healthy Trees and Existing Utilities

LPDA is assisting with a streetscape improvement project in the historic city of downtown Lynchburg, VA along the James River. The goal of the project is to establish a long-lived urban tree canopy as part of the paving, lighting and pedestrian furnishing improvements.

Prior to getting these trees planted, the team had to work through problems relating to the planting area. Trees need up to 300 cubic feet of soil to thrive for 20+ years and create a mature canopy cover. Narrow distances of 8’ from curb to building, variable basement locations and numerous utility connections presented challenges in providing sufficient soil volume for the new trees.

To provide a solution to this challenge, LPDA specified a soil cell system which will be used to supplement the tree grate planting pits in the project. Soil cells function as structural “milk crates” holding topsoil for the tree roots, which the sidewalk is built on top of. The soil cell system’s modular arrangement, arcing design, and strength to withstand lateral forces, as well as integrated air and water circulation system, means that sufficient soil volume can be provided in whatever space is available in this historic and heavily developed downtown.

Once the sidewalk is built over the soil cells, you’ll never even know they were there! The team is looking forward to the completion of the project and a more aesthetic downtown Lynchburg streetscape.