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Rootball Treatment for Optimal Tree Growth

Articles: Rootball Treatment for Optimal Tree Growth

Severe girdling roots on an oak, straight out of a fifteen-gallon container. Photographs by Walter Levison

Canopy is a Palo Alto-based, non-profit tree advocacy organization. In January and February 2007, the organization directed the planting of nearly 500 fifteen-gallon trees along Highway 101 in East Palo Alto, California, in a long-term pilot project that will be periodically monitored to determine the general levels of tree performance.

Soundwalls of poured concrete or cement block have proliferated along the West’s freeways in recent years. In East Palo Alto, twelve-foot high walls separate US Highway 101 from the residential neighborhoods of this community on the San Francisco Peninsula. The town’s residents, working with city staff, identified planting sites along the freeway that would benefit from tree planting; most of the sites were litter-strewn strips at the base of the soundwalls.

The situation was less than ideal for planting trees. Five different overhead powerline configurations, coupled with challenging soil conditions left by the construction of the walls, required specifying a vari...

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