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From Tree to Shining Tree

From Tree to Shining Tree

Krystal Paisley

August 5, 2014

Our guest blogger for this post is Marina Zahran, an Ohio State University Student and ms consultants, inc. intern.


More often than not, life within city limits causes detachment to plant life. Most days, city dwellers walk the streets failing to appreciate the inherent beauty of all things green; especially the towering trees that sit amidst the streets, city-walks, and parks. Not until we are caught in an unexpected rainstorm do we rediscover our love for trees, as their canopies keep us both dry and aesthetically pleased.


Trees provide endless benefits to the communities they reside in. These natural structures allow for water deflection as well as water absorption from the bark and roots. This permits water to evaporate while some travels down to the roots, thus deterring the water from possible flooding of the urban environment.




Not Just a for Beauty

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are many benefits to the local community by planting trees in an urban landscape, such as:


  • Up to 7% reduction in annual rainwater runoff, saving money on costly water retention systems
  • Up to 65% of rainwater can be diverted from residential areas when ecosystem research is performed and the appropriate species are chosen
  • Possibility of diverting 100% of rainwater runoff if properly executed and planted


Through the dual nature of water absorbency and evaporation from the leaves, bark and roots, tree structures correspondingly contribute to soil stabilization and water purification, leading to the facilitation of groundwater flow. This is particularly vital as groundwater serves as the drinking supply for over half the nation’s population. This natural process of storm-water retention benefits the health of a community and saves community funds as well. Partaking in a tree planting event may not be as corny as it sounds, but innovative and responsible!

Being Green in the City

There are numerous ways to encourage natural vegetation to create a healthy, eco-restorative balance between architecture, urban planning and the surrounding environment:


  • Planting within the space of a boulevard
  • Constructing a swale in areas with sloping topography
  • Building rooftop gardens on parking garages
  • Carefully designed trellised bridges


Urban planners have the capacity and natural support of their surrounding ecosystems to build carefully and efficiently. As innovations in technology, architecture, and engineering advance, we should not fear for the wellbeing of the surrounding natural components. Rather, we should work together to engineer a multi-faceted construct, allowing for the development of communities and the environment that they inhabit.


Check out the Gay Street Rain Garden case study (above) to see some of ms’ work on green design in an urban landscape.


About the writer: Marina is a rising junior at The Ohio State University, majoring in Developmental Sustainability in the Economy and Environment. Post graduation, she hopes to start her own consulting firm, focused on city and urban planning and development, constructed around sustainable development and energy efficiency. When she’s not busy working, you can find her doing her favorite activity…rock climbing!