Green Infrastructure & Urban Planning Blog

Vertical Forests: The Benefits & Beauty

Stefano Boeri Architects, a Milan-based urban planning firm, presented their home city with a world-renowned concept demanding careful analysis. Officially opened in October of 2014, Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) won the International Highrise Award in …

Introducing Trees, Stormwater & the Built Environment – A Podcast by GreenBlue Urban

GreenBlue Urban are delighted to announce the launch of our new podcast – Trees Stormwater & The Built Environment. These downloadable podcasts are designed to provide a diverse range of content which will respond to …

SuDS, Trees and Brownfield

In the UK, mainland Europe and beyond, planners and elected representatives all face a common problem – namely, that there is a pressure to house and provide essential services and infrastructure to meet the rapidly …

New Green Infrastructure Research Database

At the last meeting of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, hosted by the Town and Country Planning Association, a new, searchable database was unveiled – named GIRL, the Green Infrastructure Resource Library. This powerful tool, which …

Trees People and the Built Environment

The third of the greatly anticipated Trees, People and the Built Environment conferences, hosted by the Institute of Chartered Foresters and held at Birmingham University, brought together a diverse mix of expertise from Europe, the …

Reuniting Chicago with the River that Runs Through It

Stretching along the south edge of Chicago River, the Riverwalk is a pedestrian-only open waterfront located a level below the adjacent streetscape. The famed redevelopment initiative to reclaim the Chicago River for the ecological, recreational, …

How to Prove Sustainable Urban Drainage to a Skeptic

For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. The intensification of new developments has exacerbated the potentially damaging effects of traditional stormwater management. The hydrological process that nature …

The History of Urban Drainage

The age of enlightenment, among many benefits, brought to importance the question of urban drainage. Until the early 19th century, London’s River Thames, like many urban rivers in the world, contained relatively clean water. Some …

East Anglian Odyssey

The pastel coloured houses, many of which are thatched, and the rich biodiverse beauty of the broads make Norfolk and Suffolk – East Anglia ideal destinations for walkers and those seeking more leisurely trips. These …

The Vision for Greater Lincolnshire’s Urban Habitats

There is no denying that the city of Lincoln and the surrounding authorities enjoy a diverse and beautiful network of green and blue spaces delivering a multitude of ecosystems services. To the west, the limestone …

Lancaster Council Announces Local Plans to Shape a Better Future

Last week, in a village hall in South Lancaster, Charlotte Markey; PR & Planning Consultant for GreenBlue Urban joined the planning team at Lancaster City Council for one of their public consultation events. They were …

A City with a Vision: Worcester Green Infrastructure Partnership

From the late 1980’s onwards, it has been clear that Worcester City Council has been dedicated to maintaining and enhancing their strategic green infrastructure network. The interplay between policy and implementation within the city and …

The Importance of Deep Irrigation & Aeration

There is benefit for all of us in the elevation of arboriculture to its deserved importance in urban regeneration. The expectations of an increasingly affluent society for a green and pleasant environment in which to live, …

Green and Blue is Good For You: Presentation at Newcastle University on the Health Benefits of Urban Trees

GreenBlue Urban recently had the immense pleasure of presenting to post graduate Planning and Architecture students at the University of Newcastle, UK on the health benefits of integrating trees into urban designs of all scales and …

How to Avoid Root Heave & Pavement Damage Caused by Urban Trees

It’s important to have trees in cities for so many well-proven reasons, but without adequate consideration, trees in urban environments can cause costly damage to built infrastructure. The most common issue being surface pavement damage …

Sheffield Tree Action Group Reacts to Mass Street Tree Removal

The news of the ongoing debacle between Sheffield City Council and concerned local residents regarding the felling of thousands of street trees has sparked outrage among local residents and has been widely covered for some time …

Permeable Pavement: The Pros and Cons You Need to Know

Permeable pavement is a pavement type with a porous surface that is composed of concrete, open pore pavers or asphalt with an underlying stone reservoir. Also considered as green pavement, it allows water to run …

Urban Green Space: How can the Ecologist’s Voice be Heard?

Ecology is such an integral discipline in securing the long-term resilience and establishing a future urban landscape that recognises the centrality of nature in the heart of and periphery of our built environment. Charlotte Markey, …

A History of Urban Planning

To appreciate the significance of project awards for sustainability in urban development, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, it is worth considering the historic struggle to gain acceptance of the benefits to be realised from …

How Trees Became a Symbol of Christmas

The first Christmas Trees came to Britain sometime in the 1830’s. Originating in Germany in the 16th century, they became predominantly popular in 1841, when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s German husband) had a pine Christmas …

Twas The Week Before Christmas: A Story of Urban Tree Planting

Twas the week before Christmas When all through the city Not a department was stirring Except for one BIA committee The street decorations Were hung with great care In hopes that the shoppers Would continue …

Water Resilient Cities

GreenBlue Urban’s Head of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships, Charlotte Markey, recently had the privilege of traveling to Bruges, Belgium with a member of the Natural Infrastructure Team from Plymouth City Council. Together they met …

Award Winning Urban Landscape Projects Featuring GreenBlue Products

Many national and international organizations have instituted valuable competitions to recognize and reward innovative examples of best urban development and planning. Rectification of decades of neglect has elevated many bedraggled districts into thriving new communities. …

Green and Blue in the Land of Milk and Honey

I have just returned from a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories. It is clear that what connects all the people living across these borders is a …

Rising to the Stormwater Challenge

Traditional stormwater drainage methods that rapidly convey runoff from where it has fallen to a soakaway or watercourse increases the risks of flooding and environmental damage. The “Stormwater Treatment Train” is a collective strategy that …

Leicester and the Integration of Green and Blue

Having recently visited Leicester and the Integration of Green and Blue and with our history of delivering projects in and around the city, most notably our work on Jubilee Square, it seemed timely to reflect …

Sheffield: Social Justice, Flooding and Greenspace

Sheffield, one of the eight key City Regions with a devolution deal struck in the era of the Cameron/Osbourne ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project, faces some tough challenges and some stark choices if it is to grow …

Mainstreaming Green Infrastructure (2016 LID Conference)

The 2016 International Low Impact Development Conference took place in beautiful Portland, Maine. It highlighted the mainstreaming of green infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) in municipal planning and policy making, as well as new and …

The World’s Most Sustainable Cities

Sustainability… Perhaps one of the most overused buzzwords of the 21st Century. But what does it actually mean, and why is it so critical? More importantly, what cities are doing it right and making a …

Renew Wales Annual Conference

I had the privilege of delivering a workshop on integrating green and blue infrastructure into Neighbourhood Plans and the new ‘Place Plans’ in Wales at the Renew Wales 2016 conference. Renew Wales work with community …

Building with Nature at DEFRA

Building with Nature – Panel Debate at DEFRA September 2016 Following the announcement by DEFRA that there would be investment of 2.3bn to improve the UK’s natural environment and that the life of the Natural …

Accessible Natural Greenspace Standards

Problems with ANGST?  Then you might need some Vitamin G – A dose of ‘greenspace’ could be just what the Doctor ordered. Accessible Natural Greenspace Standards, valuing natural capital and means of surveying people’s ability …

A Model for Future Planning: Innovative Stormwater Management at the Nine Elms Development

We all know that to fully realise the potential of green infrastructure across our ever expanding urban environments, new and adaptive funding mechanisms must be put in place to ensure the long term maintenance of …

Launch of Forestry Commission’s “Urban Forest Vision”

With urban tree populations around the world on the decline, the Forestry Commission has recently produced their vision for a resilient urban forest in view of reversing the steady decline in urban canopy cover. The document, …

Renowned Soil Specialist discusses RootSpace® at GreenBlue Urban

GreenBlue Urban has been developing the next generation of load bearing soil panel systems- RootSpace® . It has been an exciting time here at the new GBU HQ producing a system with a more open …

When Many Street Trees Start to Fail, Trees in StrataCells Thrive (6 Year Review of Walkers Line Tree Plantings)

As part of the Greater Toronto Area, Burlington Ontario has thousands of commuters travelling to and from the city every day.  Walkers Line is a key north-south road that runs through Highway 407, the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way), …

Supporting the Plymouth Tree Partnership

This week, the Plymouth Natural Infrastructure team in collaboration with the Plymouth Tree Partnership organised a summit at the Devonport Guildhall to discuss Plymouth’s vision for trees. It was wonderful to see representatives from the …

Healthy New Towns

It is heartwarming and exciting to know that the NHS has become involved with the design and implementation of healthy new towns across the United Kingdom. The case studies / pilot sites chosen from a …

Raising Awareness at the Central Scotland Green Network Trust

Every year for the past five years, Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) has hosted a Forum. The goal has been to draw high quality researchers and practitioners internationally. The network plays a vital role …

A Tour of the Importance of Trees Around the UK Parliament

On Tuesday 14th June, two representatives from the GreenBlue Urban team were privileged to take part in the ‘Tour of Important Trees on the Parliamentary Estate’.  Meeting at Westminster Hall, leading experts from the Arboricultural …

What You Should Know About Specifying Green Wall Systems

The use of climbing plants is an interesting way to enhance living and working environments. Greening of facades, pergolas, and garden spaces are an ecologically sound method of taking your project beyond the ordinary. Greening is …

The Difference Between Soil and Sand

When was the last time you heard about the Sahara forest? Although sand is light and easy to work with, thousands of years’ experience in nature has proved conclusively, that good quality uncompacted topsoil, provides …

Soil Cells at Blackheath Hill | 14 Year Review

This project was planted in 2001 as one of the first installations in the world utilizing the commercial use of soil support cells for tree root growth. The international engineering group involved in the design improvements to this major roadway had …

Managing the Root of the Problem | Part 3: Utilizing Root Management Systems

With clients often requiring complete life costing and other duty-of-care obligations, it is no longer acceptable to simply plant a tree in an urban setting with the hopes that its roots stay out of trouble. …

Managing the Root of the Problem | Part 2: Poor Root Management in Practice

In Part 2 of “Managing the Root of the Problem” series, we look at why specific examples of poor root management and show just how serious dysfunctional root systems can be. This post is primarily visual …

Managing the Root of the Problem | Part 1: The Dilemma of Unmanaged Roots

Every year, millions of urban trees die prematurely or are removed due to infrastructure damage and/or public safety concerns caused by poorly managed roots. This problem is largely a result of improper planting techniques, and although specific …

9 Reasons Our Cities Need Mature Urban Trees

Trees improve the livability of urban areas for many reasons. However for several years now, tree canopy in our cities and towns has been diminishing. Large mature trees which reach the end of their lives are frequently …

Underground Stormwater Storage with Structural Support Cells

Turning what most urban planners view as a threat into an opportunity is not easy. Extreme rainfall can have potentially catastrophic consequences – but they can also bring huge benefits if channeled properly. GreenBlue has …

The Process of Successful Tree Design

Urban tree populations in cities around the world are on the decline. For over 23 years, GreenBlue has performed research into why urban trees fail and what can be implemented to change this degeneration. Arming …

Tree Roots in Soil Cells

At GreenBlue, we always advocate that below ground is what counts! Well in this visual research report, we prove how growing urban trees in soil cells is the most successful way to plant trees in …

How Much Soil Do Urban Trees Need?

Trees need appropriate amounts of loose, moist, well aerated, and uncompacted soil in order to mature in the urban environment. These conditions enable the tree’s roots to obtain nutrients, oxygen, and water – all essential for …

Successful Tree Pit Design

This slideshare arms landscape architects and urban designers with proven tree pit design methods to ensure the successful establishment of our urban tree canopy cover. The Process of Successful Tree Pit Design from GreenBlue Urban …

Soil Under Pavement: Comparison of Methods

What is the best way to promote tree root growth in the soil under a sidewalk? It’s a question that landscape architects, urban planners, arborists, and related professionals from cities large and small have no …

Pioneering the ‘Shared Space’ Woonerf

In order to calm vehicular traffic movements in dense pedestrian areas, urban planners and local authorities around the world are increasingly adopting the ‘shared space’ concept developed by Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman. The introduction of these …

Pavement, Trees, & The Space Between

The purpose of pavement is simple: to support traffic loads. Or so most would think… But what about the space below pavement? And what about the purpose pavement has as a base around urban trees? How can …

What To Know About Maintaining Urban Trees

Healthy, properly maintained trees do more than enhance the aesthetics of an environment. The benefits of urban trees are numerous and evident, and encompass many aspects from cleaning the air, to providing shade, to dampening noise, …

Trees and Climate Change

Climate change is said to be the most significant environmental challenge of the century. Governments around the globe are grappling with what to do and how to mitigate the increasing threat. With COP21, the United Nations Conference on Climate …

How Virginia State Used Tree Plantings to Appeal to Residents

Although built infrastructure of all kind is necessary for our cities and daily lives, it often isn’t something we enjoy looking at. And as the Fairfax County residents on Stevenson Avenue faced, the prospect of a 15 foot brick …

7 Urban Tree Health Benefits You’d Hardly Believe

City life isn’t always easy, but trees are proven to have surprising effects on the physical and psychological well-being of urban populations. Scientific research outlined in this article continues to prove overwhelming evidence of the numerous …

The True Value of Green Infrastructure

The City Council of Edinburgh, UK wishes to identify, measure and value the outcomes that are achieved as a direct result of the street trees and green space that are provided and maintained by the …

Urban Drainage & Stormwater Management Terminology: LID, SUDS, & WSUD

Global urbanization has brought increased stormwater challenges and made the management of urban drainage systems critically important to cities around the world.  Urban drainage and stormwater management practices have therefore seen considerable change over the …

Amazon Rainforest Enriched by Sahara Desert Erosion

The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose – Isaiah 35 v. 1 That man is responsible for the deserts is not disputed. After God, ‘out of the ground, made to grow every tree that …

The Importance of Urban Trees in Stormwater Management

Drainage problems arising from increasing levels of urbanization have exacerbated the limitations of conventional surface-water drainage measures. Street trees can be essential components to the management of stormwater in urban areas. Like their woodland forest …

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure is about bringing together natural and built environments and using a cities’ landscape as infrastructure. It is defined as natural vegetation and vegetative technologies that collectively provide society with a broad array of …

4 Methods of Accommodating Utilities in Tree Pit Design

We need trees in our cities – but preventing tree roots from interfering with infrastructure is an ongoing issue. Utilities and other services are frequently encountered during construction of tree pits, but what is the …

What Trees Bring to our Cities

Ongoing scientific research over the last decade has continued to provide overwhelming evidence of the numerous benefits and advantages that trees can bring to the urban environment, in terms of both their social and environmental impact.  …

What Landscape Architects & Urban Planners Should Know About Urban Sustainability

For the past several decades, it has become internationally recognized that the earth is unable to indefinitely support the type and extent of human activities that currently drive society. Sustainable development that ensures the healthy, …

Trees as Sound Barriers

It is not an unknown fact that noise can reach unhealthy levels in urban areas.  Cities across the world have acknowledged the impacts of noise pollution and enacted by-laws and practices to battle this increasing …

Suspended Pavement for Urban Tree Growth

Urban areas can often be completely covered by one hardscape surface or another – which when not considered properly can mean a nonexistent presence of trees in cityscapes. Given the enormous social and environmental benefits …

Urban Forests vs Woodland Forests

Trees are woodland forestry plants.  As soon as we forget this fact, we neglect the necessities that trees need and are likely to make mistakes when planting trees in urban forests. A tree in a …

Trees in Hardscape: Structural Stability vs Rootable Soil

Soil structure is fundamental for the planting of trees, as well as the stability of roads, buildings, and other infrastructure. It refers to two things: the arrangement of soil particles including silt, sand, and clay that …

Amazon’s Trees Removed Nearly a Third Less Carbon in Last Decade

The amount of carbon the Amazon region’s remaining trees removed from the atmosphere in the last decade fell by almost a third, according to leading scientists. They continue by warning that man-made carbon emissions will need to be even …

Signature Tree Drowns from Poor Drainage

A protected oak tree in the middle of a large shopping centre “drowned” from poor drainage, a builder of the site claims. Midsummer Place in Milton Keynes, UK opened around the great oak in 2000, but before …

An Urban Treehouse That Protects Residents from Air and Noise Pollution

A potted forest of trees and branching steel beams disguise this 5-story apartment building in Turin, Italy. Designed by Luciano Pia, 25 Verde brings plants up off the ground in an attempt to evade Turin’s homogeneous urban scene …

Soil Compaction & What It Means for Urban Trees

There are many aspects that need to be taken account of when planting trees in urban areas – one essential factor being soil compaction. It is important to determine site environment and soil conditions in order to mitigate …

New Zealand Memorial Park Explains Their Use of ArborSystem

View the below videos to learn how a memorial park in New Zealand used ArborSystem to ensure the new trees thrive at their ANZAC war memorial, and remain healthy for many years to come. Tree Planting …

Making a Big Difference to Global Warming

Urbanized areas may only occupy around 2% of the world’s habitable land, but they are the biggest drivers of global climate change. Referred to as “urban heat islands”, cities are usually hotter than rural areas for numerous reasons. Traffic …

Soil Requirements of Healthy Urban Trees

Trees require adequate supply of uncompacted, well aerated, and moist soil in order to thrive. These conditions enable tree roots to obtain all the essential elements they require for healthy growth – nutrients, oxygen, and …

StrataCell Installation

The Canary Wharf Crossrail Station in London, England is set to be the size of One Canada Square (a 50 story skyscraper in London) laid on its side. GreenBlue is proud to announce the completion …

11 Tree Experts & Organizations You Should Know About

Local tree experts and organizations can be a valuable resource not only to landscape architects and contractors working on landscape infrastructure projects, but also to local residents. Tree professionals are likely to know about your …

Specifying Tree Guards & Tree Grates: What You Need to Know

Tree guards and grates have an important role to play in maintaining healthy tree pit conditions. They can also be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional, and offer a high quality visual design statement to any …

Pitfalls & Challenges in Urban Tree Planting

We all know the importance of trees in our cities, however urban trees are often neglected and do not receive the appropriate care they require in urban settings. Each of these photos tell a story of neglect, …

Identifying Urban Tree Planting Opportunities

Clearly, we cannot just simply drop trees in anywhere. To have a chance of success, tree species and location are the first priority in our goal of establishing trees in cities. Planting potentially large trees in …

A City’s “Twelve Days of Christmas”

Because it’s that time of year, we felt that it was an opportunity to relay the gifts that our cities greatly deserve. So we created a poem of the endowment we hope cities around the world will be in receipt …

Tree Ordinances: What You May Not Know

Tree ordinances are official policies developed by communities to protect trees, preserve green spaces and manage urban forests. They set standards for selection, planting, maintaining, and preserving urban trees. Ordinances seek to establish a legal …

Why GreenBlue? The Meaning of our New Name

Previously operating in North America as Citygreen Urban, our company name was changed to GreenBlue Urban at the beginning of 2015.  The reason for this new identity is to better express our passion for green infrastructure, …

Quick Guide to Suitable Urban Tree Species

Here we have an assortment of tree species suitable for planting in urban areas. Factors such as ornamental value, hardiness and maintenance were taken into consideration in the selection of these trees. The tree species …

The Little Things Tree Grates Do To Make a Big Difference

Trees evolved from natural forest settings.  Where trees in woodland areas have near perfect conditions, a tree in an urban setting must endure harsh circumstances including paved surrounds, increasing microclimate temperatures and reflecting glare, exposure to wind …

The History of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is the process by which the anticipated effects on the environment of a proposed development or project are measured. EIAs can be undertaken for individual projects or for public plans, in …

Sustainable Infrastructure Requires Interdisciplinary Collaboration

The responsibility of creating and maintaining our urban landscapes and infrastructure cannot be laid on any one particular profession.  The realities of the modern planning and construction process mean that both the public and private …

How Valuable Are Urban Trees?

A recent project has revealed the true value of urban trees in the UK county of Wrexham. This first study of its kind in Wales showed that the services and benefits provided by trees to …

Street Trees & Sustainable Drainage – Call for Project

As a world-leading example of municipal authorities helping to encourage green infrastructure in their cities, boroughs within the City of London were invited to submit innovative local project proposals that deliver street trees combined with …

Pilot Project to Clarify Research Conducted Into Urban Tree Benefits

Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) have launched a project to pull together research the benefits of urban trees and identify knowledge gaps. The initiative will collect and review existing research on the benefits of urban …

How Much is an Urban Tree Worth?

Did you know that the lose of trees on your street could reduce the value of your house by up to 15%? Not to mention the plenty of other benefits they provide too! You may …

Urban Tree Pit Comparison Study Underway

The University of Greenwich is hosting the University Urban Tree Pit Comparative Study in collaboration with Hadlow College. The research is being led by landscape architect and university lecturer, Duncan Goodwin, whose research includes focus on determining the environmental and …

How Urban Trees Improve our Quality of Life

There is increasing awareness to the fact that mature urban trees improve the quality of life for people in cities and towns. Consider what our urban trees do: Sequester carbon dioxide and release oxygen Absorb as much …

Urban Trees Save Lives

Researchers from the U.S. Forest Services and The Davey Institute have found in a recent study that urban trees can save at least one life per year in most cities and up to 8 people …

Trees, People, and the Built Environment

There will be a urban tree research conference, taking place on April 2-3 in Birmingham. Three renowned experts in architecture, planning, urban ecology and sustainability will address over 400 delegates at the two-day conference. They …

Trees for Cities

It is widely thought that tree cover in urban areas is in decline, this is due to increasing threat from development, the effects of climate change and the stresses of survival in heavily populated areas. …

Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

The process of urbanisation alters the thermal balance of an area resulting in an urban heat island effect where cities can be several degrees centigrade warmer than the surrounding rural landscape. This increased heat can …

Urban Air Quality

Rossa Donovan, environmental scientist for international consultancy WYG, has discovered a variety of trees that can improve urban air quality. The investigation was carried out using model scenarios to develop an Urban Tree Air Quality …

How Trees Combat Temperature Rises in Cities

The vital role of urban trees in helping to lower temperatures in cities is described in a new publication by scientists from Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission.  Built up urban environments …

Quality Soils = Healthy Trees

It is now widely accepted by green building professionals that healthy trees play a significant role in successful green infrastructure systems in urban environments. Trees provide a wide range of benefits to society at-large and …

World’s Strongest Soil Cell

The GreenBlue modular StrataCell system is fast becoming the favoured suspended pavement system for tree pits in urban development projects – not only in Pacific region, but also in several countries around the world. And for several good reasons. …

Gaining Planning Permission

The retention and planting of large species trees can help developers more readily gain planning permission for urban development local authorities require mitigation and improvement measures. Developers and designers can introduce large species trees as …

How Trees Increase Retail Sales

The importance of having trees in retail areas has been studied by the University of Washington (Wolf, 2005) which investigated the associations between trees and people’s response to shopping settings. The studies found that shoppers …

With or Without Trees…

Famous landscape paintings have been recreated without trees by an Edinburgh University scientist to draw attention to the value of woods and forests. Dr Iain Woodhouse removed trees from Constable’s The Haywain, Seurat’s Sunday afternoon …

Trees Make Places Friendly

Trees make places work, look and feel better. As well as playing a role in climate management our neighbourhoods and supporting human health and environmental well-being, trees can also help to create conditions for economic …

How to Ensure Sustainable Tree Growth in Cities

Over the last decade, the activities of numerous charities and public sector organisations have helped to put the creation of sustainable urban forests firmly on the agenda for politicians, policy makers, planners and landscape design …

Tree Preservation Toolkit

Below we detail the steps urban landscape professionals and residents alike should take in preserving and protecting prized trees of all size and age that find themselves in danger from the consequences of the urban environment. …