September 16 2011

Silva Cells: Supporting Stormwater Runoff, Utilities, and Long-Term Tree Growth in High-Traffic Areas

Often times, in design, monetary constraints affect the long-term integrity of a building, the landscape, and the overall site. All too often, cut backs on spending negatively impact an under-rated landscape. This impact can quite literally stunt the growth of the landscape in which every person moves.

At the forefront of these cut backs are items and systems hidden below ground that allow for the mature landscapes we often enjoy, to thrive. One such system is the Silva Cell; a modular frame and deck that houses soil media, free from the fear of soil compaction, while allowing stormwater runoff to be treated on site, and large trees to grow. Often, street trees are short lived due to cut backs in funding, which lead to tree pit wells, filled with minimal soil media proficient enough to allow a tree to survive, let alone thrive.

These modular systems are often prescribed by Planners, Landscape Architects, and Architects, in a range of applications and scales. Including Silva Cell, and other storm water treatment and tree growth systems, design guidelines ensure a sustainable and long term vision of a site.

Silva Cell Benefits:

-          Allows stormwater runoff to percolate into the ground and be treated on site;

-          Houses utilities lines in the cells;

-          Supports large and long-term tree growth in high foot traffic areas.

Undercutting the landscape can lead to an aesthetic, and functionality, that falls short of the client’s and user’s long-term vision. Many times, the landscape can add value to site, and aid in attaining LEED certification.

With such an opportunity for a landscape to grow and prosper, shouldn’t more time, money, and foresight be spent in the entire site, not just the building?

Have you seen a landscape suffer from a cut in a budget?

Paul Drummond

Paul Drummond is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture. Paul received the A.S.L.A Student Honor Award and has worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland, along with shoreline restoration companies along the Chesapeake Bay. A native of Maryland and having lived on both sides of the state, Paul draws inspiration and ecological awareness from the entire state, ranging from the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, to the estuaries, marshes, and agrarian landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 10:23 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Silva Cells: Supporting Stormwater Runoff, Utilities, and Long-Term Tree Growth in High-Traffic Areas”

  1. Mark Lerch Says:

    Hi, I haven’t seen any Silva Cells go in yet. I have heard about them. James Urban. To answer your question. It is problematic. When there is a cut in a landscape budget it’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see. The site furniture family. The channel drains. Pervious paving, reclaimed water opportunities, bio-infiltration, the Silva cells or adequate provisions for tree growth 20 years down the road. Perhaps a staff engineer was enlisted to sign and seal the engineered landscape plans as is allowed in some states.

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