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Stability of containerized urban street trees

Abstract

Trees are usually grown in containers in the nursery until they reach a certain size, whereupon they are transplanted to a permanent location. Infrastructure development has often led to the removal of large trees. To maintain lush foliage and trees of a size that benefit urban ecology, trees can be grown in containers. Containerized trees can be moved from one location to another, and this relocation does not require root pruning or crown-size reduction. The drawback to having trees in containers is the small and confined volume of the container, which limits tree root development and thus affects containerized tree stability. The objective of this study was to understand the failure mechanisms for and the effect of the root dimensions on the stability of containerized trees. Therefore, small-scale stability model tests were conducted which were verified using numerical and analytical models. The results identified two failure modes that were likely to occur: tree overturning and container overturning. The mode of failure was dependent on the root dimensions. When the trees had extended their roots deep into the container, the whole container would overturn in the event of failure due to increased root confinement and shear resistance of the soil. On the other hand, the main failure mechanism when there was shallow root development was the uplifting of the tree from the container while the container remained upright. The results from numerical and analytical models were consistent with those obtained during the small-scale model stability tests.

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Abbreviations

τ :

Maximum shear stress

c′:

Effective cohesion

ϕ′:

Effective angle of internal friction of the soil

H c :

Height of the container

D c :

Diameter of the container

H t :

Height of the tree

φ :

Friction coefficient

E :

Young’s modulus

υ :

Poisson’s ratio

W t :

Weight of the tree

W s :

Weight of the soil

W c :

Weight of the container

L :

Ratio of moment arm to height

DBH:

Diameter at breast height

USCS:

Unified soil classification system

CU:

Consolidated undrained

LVDT:

Linear variable differential transformer

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Acknowledgments

This study was carried out as a part of a research collaboration to develop a container for growing street trees. The study was conducted with the Nanyang Technological University and National Parks Board, Singapore. The assistance of Mr. Rayner Wee during the preparation of this manuscript is greatly appreciated. The anonymous reviewers who made critical comments and recommendations are also greatly appreciated.

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Correspondence to H. Rahardjo.

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Harnas, F.R., Rahardjo, H., Leong, E.C. et al. Stability of containerized urban street trees. Landscape Ecol Eng 12, 13–24 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11355-015-0272-4

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Keywords

  • Containerized tree
  • Urban environment
  • Small-scale model test
  • Numerical modeling
  • Tree stability