Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 787–805 | Cite as

Influence of aboveground tree biomass, home age, and yard maintenance on soil carbon levels in residential yards

  • Ann HuylerEmail author
  • Arthur H. Chappelka
  • Stephen A. Prior
  • Greg L. Somers


With the rapid urbanization of natural lands, researchers have begun to examine the capacity of urban soils to store carbon (C), with recent attention to residential yards. We performed a case study to examine four potential influences on soil C levels in residential yards. In 67 yards containing trees, we examined the relationship of soil C (kg m−2) to tree aboveground biomass, home age (3–87 years), yard maintenance (fertilization, irrigation, mulching or bagging lawn clippings), and soil texture (% clay, % sand, % silt), at three depths (0–15 cm, 15–30 cm, and 30–50 cm). Six tree aboveground biomass data sets were developed: 1) biomass, 2) biomass*(1/distance from tree), 3) biomass ≤ 15 m from sample site, 4) biomass ≤ 10 m, 5) biomass ≤ 5 m, and 6) biomass ≤ 4 m. Biomass ≤ 5 m and biomass ≤ 4 m had the greatest explanatory power for soil C at 30–50 cm depth (P = 0.001, R2 = 0.28; P = 0.05 R2 = 0.39, respectively). The relationship between soil C and home age was positive at 0–15 cm (P = 0.0003, R2 = 0.19), but constant at the two lower depths. Yard maintenance had no significant influence on soil C levels across home age. At 0–15 cm, soil C increased with % silt (P = 0.006, R2 = 0.12). Overall, trees in turfgrass yards may have a stabilizing effect on soil C levels below 15 cm but minimal influence above 15 cm.


Soil carbon Residential yards Aboveground tree biomass Home age Yard maintenance 



We are very thankful for the technical and/or field assistance from William Avery, Jonathon Bartlett, Kyle Bolton, Nick Gilliland, Robin Governo, Dr. B. Graeme Lockaby, Nick Martin, Matthew McCollough and Efrem Robbins. For carbon and nitrogen analysis and technical assistance, we are greatly appreciative of Barry G. Dorman and Dr. Juan B. Rodriguez with the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Auburn, AL. In addition, we are very grateful for the thorough, accurate editorial contributions from Dr. Francisco Escobedo and the 2 anonymous reviewers. Partial financial support provided by Mcintire-Stennis funds.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Huyler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arthur H. Chappelka
    • 1
  • Stephen A. Prior
    • 2
  • Greg L. Somers
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.USDA ARS National Soil Dynamics LaboratoryAuburnUSA

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