Improving stormwater capture of urban forests through soil rehabilitation

2013 | Susan Day, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In this project we are assessing whether soil rehabilitation can improve the ability of tree planting sites to capture stormwater. We are working in partnership with urban foresters in Arlington, Virginia, where new tree planting areas are being installed in previously paved areas to form road medians and along roadways. We will evaluate the effects of soil profile rebuilding, a soil rehabilitation technique that focuses on loosening compacted subsoils to improve soil aggregation and hydraulic conductivity. Tree planting areas that can also aid in urban runoff reduction would provide added value to urban forest contributions to environmental quality. The specification for soil profile rebuilding is available at Expected results of this study include quantifiable benefits from soil improvement that can be used in multiple applications, including cost/benefit calculations, stormwater modeling, and generating tree-based stormwater best management practices that can be incorporated into policy.

Study Results

Final results are not yet available. However, Dr. Day’s work from this study, in combination with that from a previous TREE Fund-supported project, “Rehabilitation of urban soils: A critical first step for long-term soil productivity and canopy cover in urban forests,” was highlighted in a February 2016 news release from Virginia Tech.

Year: 2013

Funding Duration: 3-5 years

Grant Program: Hyland R. Johns

Grant Title: Improving stormwater capture of urban forests through soil rehabilitation

Researcher: Dr. Susan Day

Key words: 

Peer Reviewed Publications from Grant:

Day, S.D. and D.K. Mitchell. 2015. A new perspective on opportunities for stormwater mitigation through soil management in ordinary urban landscapes. Watershed Science Bulletin, January 2015.

General Audience/Trade Publications:

Soil Profile Rebuilding: Specification for Restoration of Graded and Compacted Soils that will be Vegetated. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3503.3049.