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CU-Structural Soil® Basics

What Is It?

CU-Soil® is a proprietary material patented by Cornell University and marketed under the trademarked names CU-Structural Soil® and CU-Soil®. It is a two-part system comprised of a rigid stone “lattice” that meets engineering requirements of uncompacted soil that supports tree root growth.

How Does It Work?

The stone components of CU-Structural Soil® come together during compaction, forming a strong, load-bearing, compacted stone base suitable for paving over, while the large voids between the stones provide room for an uncompacted clay loam soil and allow for root growth and aeration of the root zone.

Why Use It?

The upfront investment in making the soil suitable for supporting a healthy tree is paid back in full when that tree fulfills the functions for which it was planted. These may include shade, beauty, noise reduction, wind abatement, pollution reduction, stormwater mitigation, wildlife habitat and the creation of civic identity.

If you want to learn a whole lot more and like to read, check out this 55-page CU-Soil® Comprehensive Guide.

CU-Structural Soil® Applications

New Streetscape Plantings

New streetscape projects offer the greatest opportunity for using CU-Structural Soil®, as CU-Structural Soil® was designed to provide increase soil volumes for tree roots under pavements.

Trees in Plazas and Parking Lots

Many urban plazas sacrifice tree usable soil volume in favor of extensive paving. By utilizing CU-Structural Soil® beneath pavers, plazas and parking lots can have thriving trees without sacrificing paved area.

Free Existing Trees from Tree Pits

Street renovation projects, where lengthy sections of streets and sidewalks are entirely reconstructed, offer opportunities to “free” the roots of trees that were previously confined to tree pits.

Save Trees Threatened by Construction

Sometimes planned construction activity and paving projects can threaten the root systems of mature trees. When extensive paving is planned in the root zone of mature existing trees, it is possible to use CU-Structural Soil® as a means to save the threatened tree.

Break-Out Zones from Narrow Tree Lawns

Where there is an adjacent green space, whether a park or front lawn, CU-Structural Soil® may be used as a channel for roots to safely grow under sidewalk pavement and into the green space.

Use Under Porous Pavement

In addition to being a viable growing medium that supports tree growth, CU-Structural Soil® provides a reservoir for stormwater capture under pavement. Twenty-four inches of CU-Structural Soil® can capture six inches of rainfall in twenty-four hours.

Do you want to check out some more resources and see some plan views?

The ArborTec Story

(the short version)

ArborTec, LLC was founded by three people with unique names who are proud Kansas Citians (or Cityites, not sure) who love trees, like to make tree puns…but this is the short version, so let’s leaf that one alone fir now…and are from the same family tree. Afa is Jinger’s husband. Jinger is Afa’s wife, and Duke is his uncle.

All three have extensive experience over the last decade or so producing CU-Soil®, and when the license to produce became available in 2016, they decided to join forces and apply for it. Having worked with Afa, Jinger and Duke in the past, Amereq, Inc. didn’t hesitate to award it to them.

And unlike the license Afa and Jinger got when they were married, this license actually requires that they know what they’re doing…and that you can be assured the material they provide has been produced and tested to meet research-based specifications.

Afa Still

The oldest of eleven children, Afa is literally a born leader. When his hands aren’t full of dirt and rocks, he proudly serves as a firefighter for the city of Kansas City, MO. On his rare down time, he enjoys kayak fishing, hunting and reading/watching anything about history. Ask him about anything viking related—he won’t let you down.

Jinger Still

Originally from southwest Missouri (shout out to Table Rock Lake!), Jinger moved to Kansas City after marrying Afa and joining his huge family’s business. When Jinger isn’t answering questions about CU-Soil®, she is most likely elbows deep in some kid-related project (a.k.a. mess) with one of Afa’s and her five unruly, but awesome, children. 

Duke Christoffersen

Duke is home grown, is Afa’s uncle, and also worked with the family business…from Southern California, where he lived for twenty years before recently returning to his home soil. He is a KU grad and avid Jayhawk hoops fan, an admitted trivia geek (rock chalk is a reference to limestone) and possibly the only person in KC with a surfboard in his garage.