THE CONSTRUCTIONIST.

FEB

06



BENEFITS OF SOIL CELLS

What is a soil cell system?

The soil cell system is a combination of hollow plastic supports (typically cubic in shape) replete with soil. Soil cells, also known as Silva Cells, are typically enclosed at the top and bottom, and most have a top or deck that concurrently acts as a roof to the soil enclosure and as a base for placing aggregates, casting concrete, or placing other hard surface materials on top of the soil cells.

What are benefits of a soil cell system?

The inclusion of silva cells under a hard surface (typically concrete or stone) offers a myriad of ecological benefits compared to standard concrete placement methods without soil cells. Because the soil is placed interstitially between the plastic supports of the soil cells the soil does not get highly compacted by the weight of the above material. It is due to this lack of high compaction that adds ecological benefits compared to hard surface construction methods without the inclusion of soil cells.

As highly compacted soils hinder root propagation and plant growth the soil within the soil cells is meant to resemble the lightly compacted soil structure of a natural ecosystem. Firstly, this allows for soil cells to support generally unhindered root growth and can even support the growth of large trees. Secondly, as vegetation growth increases so do ecological benefits provided by soil cell installations. As large trees and vegetation utilize available water, more water is retained within the soil cell system and less strain is put on a municipalities storm/waste water system. Lastly, vegetation is a key factor is sequestering nutrients (N, P, K, Mg, etc.), hydrocarbons, heavy metals and other contaminates. As vegetation rates increase within soil cell structures, so does the ability of the soil cell system to sequester pollutants.

Alongside with ecological benefits soil cells also offer long term structural benefits to a project. The inclusion of soil cells prevents cracking or ‘heaving’ in pavement due to large tree/plant roots. As the larger plant roots are kept within the soil layer and directed away from the upper hard surface or pavement, it is significantly less likely that cracking or heaving of a hard, paved surface will occur.  

At Earthco Soil Mixtures, we have custom-designed soil that is ideal for installation with Silva Cells. Our Earthco Silva Cell Soil consists of a blend of topsoil, coarse sand, and organic matter and is processed through a ½” screen. Earthco Silva Cell Soil maintains sufficient water drainage to sustain tree growth in an urban environment.

If you think soil cells are right for your next project, call us today at 416.798.4749 to speak with one of our soil specialists.

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