‘Pace to Plant’ Technique for Measuring Impervious Surface Cover

Impervious surfaces like pavement increase tree stress and pest abundance. We developed impervious surface thresholds to help tree care professionals and planners select good sites for red maples. To measure impervious surfaces we developed the Pace to Plant technique.

To measure impervious surface with ‘Pace to Plant’, stand at the tree site then take 25 steps at a 45 degree angle to the closest impervious edge. Count the number of steps that land on impervious surface. Repeat this 3 more times rotating 90 degrees each time for a total of 100 steps. Our analyses show that the number of steps out of 100 accurately estimates the actual impervious surface cover. Using impervious surface thresholds and the ‘Pace to Plant’ technique, landscape architects and other landscape professionals have the tools to plant the most common landscape tree in the eastern U.S. in more suitable locations.

Learn more about the research behind Pace to Plant.



Impervious Surface Thresholds Factsheet

Pace to Plant Factsheet

Details about the importance, science behind, and applications of impervious surface thresholds and the Pace to Plant technique in the NCSU Extension Resource Repository.


Pace to Plant Extension Handout

A quick, one page guide to impervious surface thresholds and Pace to Plant formatted for printing.


Pace to Plant Presentation

A presentation about Pace to Plant for extension personnel to use, including background information and step-by-step instructions.

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