Specifying Trees

We recently discovered a book titled ‘Specifying Trees’ by Ross Clark. If you are a landscape architect, landscape design and landscape contractor, or simply enjoy landscaping, then you probably want to get your hands on this one. Specifying Trees has become the “go-to” book when it comes to landscape architecture.

Trees are a major component of landscaping projects but generally represent a small part of the total project costs. So how does one ensure that the trees supplied have been grown to a standard that ensures rapid growth to maturity?

Specifying Trees. (2003). Crediting Sources: Ross Clark. NATSPEC//Construction Information (p. v,vi, vii).

The crucial part is finding the best supplier. Great trees are sourced from great suppliers. Ross Clark provides a list of important characteristics which should be considered when evaluating the quality of tree stock and emphasizes its importance. These characteristics are comprehensive, quantified and apply to all tree sizes regardless of the planting process. When evaluating trees, it’s important to acknowledge that they are living organisms. Unlike manufactured products, the trees supplied may differ from the initial order.

It is imperative to remember that a good specification is not necessarily a guarantee in ensuring successful tree plantings. The quality of the trees is just the initial part of the process. Other factors include good planning/design, good species selection, great planting with established techniques and exceptional maintenance. The success of tree plantings is also determined by the collective efforts of the parties involved. There has to be clear cooperation, communication and an understanding of the particular needs of trees. This book takes a unique approach to specifying trees, it tackles aspects of tree quality in a quantified and generic manner.

While the process of quantifying the criteria for characteristics of living organisms is unpredictable, it is crucial as it allows these criteria to be measured and policed. The standards included are based on a long-term experience with trees. A more generic approach simplifies the specification of trees. The specification must be included in any request or order for trees. Tree suppliers will have to certify that the trees meet the necessary criteria/standards and that the trees will be inspected by the customer or their agent for conformity.

Although the specifications have been designed to accommodate the variations found in trees, some tree suppliers believe that minor nonconformities are acceptable e.g. removing unsuitable roots that are 10mm in diameter may not cause a huge difference when planting the tree. Customers may accept these variations in writing making it a contractual agreement. It’s best for tree suppliers to notify customers of any minor changes at the time of quotation or before delivery as customers are not obliged to accept any nonconformities. This may lead to the order being rejected.

These series of posts are aimed at the entire landscape industry. It provides students with an understanding of what makes a good tree and landscape architects, as a means of specifying good trees. It allows financial controllers to ensure the quality of their projects is upheld while pursuing the most cost-effective options. This book is for responsible tree growers who want to be empowered with guidelines for good tree production and ensure that their efforts are not depreciated by the acceptance of cheaper sub-standard trees. End-users such as councils and developers stand to benefit since it provides a means of ensuring that the trees supplied for their projects are of a consistently high standard, and allows them to discern whether the trees will grow to maturity and achieve the desired vision of the project. If you fall under the listed occupations then this book is certainly worth reading. Specifying Trees is available for purchase at www.natspec.com.au.


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