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8:00 am to 5:00 pm
4721 E. 146th Street

Carmel, IN  46033

Phone.  317-846-3778
Fax.       317-846-3788





The Orchard School Tree Preservation


Received the:

National Arborist Association Excellence in Arboriculture

Award of Distinction for Construction Site Tree Preservation


International Society of Arboriculture Gold Leaf Award for

Outstanding Landscape Beautification Activities



The Project:


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In 1999, the Orchard School began a $10.5 million expansion project. 

The expansion was to have as little impact as possible on the twenty-five

acres of woodlands used as part of its outdoor education.



The Trees:

Over the years, the woodlands on this site have been used heavily by the students

and have therefore been inspected annually.  These trees have been considered part of

the school experience and are of great importance to the total feeling of this

environmentally-conscious school.


Diana Shellhaas of Orchard School and Judson R. Scott (Registered Consulting Arborist #392) of Vine & Branch, Inc. annually walked the woodlands to assess  any potentially hazardous situations.  The trees were pruned or removed by the Vine & Branch staff as necessary to keep the woodlands both safe and healthy.  However, the proposed expansion project was going to seriously impact many of these important trees if steps were not taken early.



The Preservation Process:

The Orchard School hired Judson R. Scott and the Vine & Branch staff to develop

and complete tree preservation plans.  The Vine & Branch staff worked in conjunction

with the contractors and used many preservation techniques tailored to this project. 

The following are some of the highlights.

  • Fencing was erected to designate tree preservation zones as well as to protect students and faculty throughout the construction.

  • Diana Shellhaas, Outdoor Education Coordinator for the Orchard School decided trees that required removal to make way for the addition should be used as educational materials.  Students learned to conserve our natural resources with the following:

    • Logs from the trunks were cut for outdoor seating.

    • Other logs were milled for lumber to be used in school projects.

    • Scraps from the lumber operation were kept for art projects.

    • Wood chips from the limbs were used on the five miles of trails running throughout the woodlands.

  • Instead of being removed, apple trees in the location of a planned new road were transplanted near the log cabin in the outdoor recreation area to create and ‘orchard.’  Twenty-two trees and 110 shrubs in the area of the future performing arts center were also transplanted.  These were moved to landscape and naturalize the new addition on the east side.

  • The construction of the Early Education Center eliminated fire access to the rear of the building.  Ratio Architects helped plan a new fire trail through the woodlands.  Fencing was installed, impacted trees were fertilized and roots were pruned to limit the stress of the construction damage.  This new fire trail was used to install all utility lines that needed to be routed to the rear of the building.  It was also used for access to the construction site.  The innovative design allowed for the preservation of approximately 50 trees that would have otherwise been removed.

  • Plans were made to relocate a baseball diamond.  Unfortunately, the new outfield fell within the critical root zone of a 150-year-old Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus).  Early discussion called for the removal of the tree.  However, Ratio Architects , Shiel Sexton, and The Orchard School all decided the tree should be preserved, so a new baseball field configuration was designed.  Ten feet were taken off the right outfield boundary to limit the root disturbance.  Judson R. Scott was brought in to contract and oversee the entire grading process to keep the root zone intact.


Results and Achievements:

Effort was made throughout the entire project to protect the trees as much as possible. 

The extent to which the contractor went to preserve the trees has allowed for an expansion

to the school that has kept the integrity of the woodlands intact. The fire trail design, the transplanting of the trees and shrubs, and the baseball diamond design all help to naturalize

the project so that the expansion looks like it has been part of the school forever.  The students, the school staff, and the local community have all learned from the educational procedures undertaken by the Vine & Branch staff.


In 2001, Vine & Branch, Inc. was awarded the National Arborist Association Excellence in

Arboriculture Award of Distinction for Construction Site Tree Preservation for their work with

The Orchard School Preservation Project.  In 2002, Vine & Branch was awarded their second

national award this project, the International Society of Arboriculture Golf Leaf Award for

Outstanding Landscape Beautification Activities.  


Back to Awards & Recognition web pages 




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