A New Norris House: Phase IV

Live-In Evaluation and Monitoring of a design/build effort

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    Fall Volunteer Planting Day

    By newnorrishouse
    Nov 16, '11 12:51 PM EST

    When it comes to adding new plants to your landscape, most people think spring is the best time to plant. While some plants do well when planted in the spring, many plants, including trees and woody shrubs, benefit from fall planting. Trees and shrubs that are installed in the fall ultimately grow better because they have better conditions for root growth. In the fall, cooler atmospheric temperatures and decreased daylight hours signal the plant to stop growing above ground. Because the plant is not using as much energy to grow leaves and stems it has more energy to invest in root growth. Even though fall air is chilly, the ground remains relatively warm, and this further encourages root development. The roots continue to grow until the ground freezes, and in the spring root growth resumes or increases at an accelerated rate. Spring installed plants are at a disadvantage because their initial root growth is occurring in cool soils, while fall installed plants already have a well developed root structure. Well developed roots become increasingly important as cool, rainy spring weather gives way to hot, dry summer - a plant with well developed roots is much better equipped to deal with heat and drought then a plant that has a short and shallow root structure.

    This past weekend we held a volunteer fall planting day at the New Norris House to complete the Phase II planting of trees and shrubs. We installed 55 shrubs to stabilize the slopes and provide food and habitat for wildlife.

    We also planted 9 trees to provide buffer zones between our property and the adjacent properties. We planted 1 large dogwood in the front lawn as an accent tree. As the dogwood grows taller it will develop a horizontal branch structure that will frame the front large window.

    The weather was perfect for digging and planting, and we had about 20 volunteers come to help. The day was a great success and we were able to install all the plants before lunchtime!

    Thank you to all of the volunteers and Little River Nursery for providing the plant materials and donating the dogwood tree!

    Learn more about our project at

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About this Blog

The New Norris House is a design/build effort from the University of Tennessee's College of Architecture and Design. Began in 2009, the home was designed and built by UT students in collaboration with Clayton Homes. The built project is now complete and the final phase of the project has begun. A team of 4 people (2 living in the home, and 2 graduate researchers) will rigorously document the experience via qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements, posting results to this blog.

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