Soil Volumes and Soil Design for Consulting Arborists.  Soils are fundamental in tree development, health and longevity, so why is soil design not often addressed in tree report assessments and recommendations?

Consulting arborists are key in providing soil design recommendations for improving both existing and proposed trees. Practically also, arborists are at the forefront of applying soil improvements.

In the forum session, Simon Leake and Elke Haege will present the rationale behind the soil rooting volume estimator developed initially in Soils for Landscape Development and then further refined in the on-line Soil Volume Simulator.

We will take you through the online Soil Volume Simulator. A free online tool that competent arborists can utilise to validate and make informed recommendations in arborist reports, policies and practical implementations.

Elke Haege

Landscape architect and consulting arborist, Elke Haege is an enthusiastic proponent for the development and sustainable connection to natural systems.

Elke is the co-author of award-winning publication: “Soils for Landscape Development: Selection, Specification and Validation” published through CSIRO, co-authored with Simon Leake, SESL Australia. (2014 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, NSW award for Research and Literature, 2015 Award by The Australian Institute of Horticulture for Literature). Reprinted in 2018. This publication provides:

  • 13 typical soil specification examples which can be used for most landscape projects.
  • The Soil Approach Method, introducing ‘Soil Design’ and
  • The Soil Volume Estimator.

Elke has also developed the online Soil Volume Simulator (for calculating minimum soil volumes for trees in limited spaces) and in 2017, published the Landscape Soils Handbook (a ready reference guide with clear, step-by-step ways of how a landscape soil is selected, specified, ordered, supplied and installed).

Elke was honoured to be named one of the top 10 ‘Emerging Voices of Landscape Architecture’ in commemoration of 50 years of Landscape Architecture in Australia. (2017).

Elke is also a beekeeper, co-founding member of The Sydney Bee Club (2011), former president (and still involved on the committee). Elke also breeds native stingless bees in Sydney.

Simon Leake

Simon Leake graduated in Agricultural Science majoring in Soil Science and established his consulting laboratory SESL Australia in 1984.  One of Simon’s main client base has been the landscape architecture industry with major involvements in Darling Harbour, Sydney Olympic Park, Barangaroo and many more minor consulting roles including many street tree planting projects and diagnosis of failures.

Simon has taught soils to arborists through NSW TAFE for over 15 years. Was a committee member of the Australian Standards Association, developing AS 3743, 4454 and 4419. Simon jointly published “Soils for Landscape Development” with Elke Haege aimed at improving the specification of landscape soils and helping develop a better method of estimating rooting volume requirements for urban trees.

Peter May (session chair)

Peter graduated with an honours degree in agricultural science from the University of Melbourne and completed a PhD in soil science at the same institution.
He was employed as an academic at Burnley Campus – The University of Melbourne for 30 years, developing expertise in soil science, urban soils and urban and landscape horticulture.

At Burnley he taught undergraduate and post-graduate subjects, managed courses and supervised postgraduate students.
He was head of Campus on retirement in 2005.

On retiring he established a consultancy business (May Horticulture Services) and for about 12 years provided specialist advice in a range of areas including urban and landscape soils, landscape plant establishment, landscape plant selection and the management and maintenance of landscape plants, primarily to local government and landscape architecture firms.
He is now enjoying a proper retirement.  He is an assistant editor of the journal Arboriculture and Urban Forestry.