Working with associations like the Urban Design Forum and Urban Design London is always a high-light for GreenBlue Urban. People that encourage urban designers and policy makers create more sustainable and livable built environments where people want to live, work, and play aligns with our mission statement perfectly.

After a recent day of presenting to a group of these members, urban planners and policy-makers were able to spend a morning considering how nature can be one of the design tools for a coherent and multi-functional urban environment.

We wanted to draw two key elements to the attention of our audiences from the arboriculture, planning and engineering communities.

Transport for London Building Office


Peter Massini, a leading light at the GLA and frequent GreenBlue Urban collaborator, works on green infrastructure and LID / SuDs policy and could not underline enough the need to truly ensure that what we classify as ‘green space’ is not purely space that’s green but that it provides essential ecosystems services. Having presented images of unappealing patches of green around residential areas and water-logged sports pitches, he made some very important observations specifically relating to our urban trees. Firstly, what he classified as missed opportunities – contrasting a tree planted with no forethought or a below ground solution with a LID / SUDs compatible tree pit like at Pace University in New York City or on Goldhawk Road in London.

Peter Massini – Comparing missed opportunities

It is crucial that we don’t miss such opportunities to optimise the capacity of our urban trees through innovative tree pit design to combine root management with water attenuation. Peter then went on to highlight the need to integrate tree pits into more car parking sites across London. At GreenBlue Urban we have invested in years of research at Abertay University to developing and testing our Arborflow tree pit design in car parking scenarios.

Species Selection and Rooting Environment

Dr Andy Hirons from Myerscough College  provided a thorough and fascinating insight into the new species selection guide developed in collaboration with Dr Henrik Sjöman. Launched earlier this year, it is important that here at GreenBlue Urban, we highlight the value of this tool for those experts and non-experts dedicated to ensuring the survival or our urban trees in the long term. The guide constitutes an accessible and holistic approach to tree species selection for our developing and ever-changing urban environment. Dr Hirons highlighted the importance of soil volume and the creation of a below-ground environment that is properly irrigated and aerated. When working with local authorities we often find that the selection of species causes confusion and concern.

Dr Andy Hirons discusses Selection of Tree Species

Dr Hirons explained that during the process of surveying key stakeholders when developing the guide, many relied on nursery brochures that can often be focused too heavily on amenity. Decision-making tools, such as this guide, enable a broader approach. Tree officers and arboriculturalists have a user-friendly resource to strengthen their case for considered, function focused urban tree planting.

Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure – A Guide for Specifiers

What are we trying to achieve by planting urban trees on any given site and how can we optimise the value we derive from such an investment?

Through using the guide, engineers and planners can engage meaningfully with arboricultural experts and landscape architects to develop a common language. Specific species in the guide are highlighted for their suitability for integration into paved environments.

GBU have a selection of case studies with different scenarios

Our latest webinar also discusses placement of trees, what should be considered when planning your tree pit for urban tree planting.  Now available to listen online.

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