Trees need your love more than ever
The hot, dry weather means trees need your love more than ever
This current hot, dry spell has meant that many trees in London and around the country are struggling.
Trees for Cities staff are watering the trees that we have planted over the last three years but in some cases the trees could use a little extra help, which we can’t provide while still ensuring all the trees in our care get their fare share of water.
Trees for Cities is asking local people to do what they can to ensure that the trees we have planted near where they live remain hydrated while the hot, dry weather continues. Use recycled water to give additional water to those trees which are struggling. There are many everyday opportunities to recycle the water we use at home to keep trees alive: a thirsty tree will happily swallow your old bathwater, cold tea or water you have saved up in a rainwater tank. You can use washing-up water too - but only if you have used eco-friendly washing up liquid, as chemicals exists in many regular liquids that do not break down and could damage trees in a concentrated area like a tree pit.
Trees that have been planted in the last one to five years are particularly vulnerable as their root systems have had less time to establish and reach out for moisture in the soil.
Some trees will have been planted with irrigation pipes that carry water straight down to the roots. Trees in public spaces need looking after as much as those in private gardens - so why not talk to your neighbours and adopt a tree each in your local park or street?
If you are particularly worried about a Trees for Cities tree you can call the Love Trees Hotline on 020 7820 4417.
Top 10 tips for tree care in the drought
Trees for Cities supports the top 10 tips produced by the Tree Council on how to keep trees watered during a drought, even though the we are not currently in a drought, the principles remain the same. The tips are:
1. Trees should be watered three times a month from April until the end of September. When possible avoid evaporation by watering early or late, not in the middle of the day.
2. Water slowly, to ensure that the water does not run off. The ground will probably be hard and it will take time for the water to permeate through the surface, so especially to begin with, water slowly and thoroughly.
3. Estimating the amount of water that a tree needs is difficult. A useful rule of thumb is a full watering can or five minutes with a hose, per 2.5cm/1in of trunk diameter at knee height.
4. Inadequate watering, which only wets the surface of the ground, can cause surface roots to grow and this could lead to drought problems if the watering stops.
5. Concentrate efforts under the canopy of the tree, as this is where most of the roots are likely to be. Ensure that you water evenly so that no matter where the roots are, they get some water.
6. Don’t concentrate all your watering around the base of the trunk, as most of the roots are likely to be further out.
7. To ensure the soil retains water, use mulch extensively around trees in a circle of at least least 1m/3ft radius and to a depth of 10cm/4in. Use wood chips, shredded bark, leaves or evergreen needles as mulch. Make sure that the mulch is not touching the trunk.
8. If you use a watering can or hose, attach a watering rose to slow down the speed of watering and ensure the water doesn’t run off. Alternatively, use a perforated hose and lay it around the tree under the canopy. Again, five minutes watering per 2.5cm/1in of stem diameter.
9. Another option is to drill 7mm/¼ in holes in a bucket or watering can, and then stand it under the tree, so that the water drains out slowly into the soil.
10. Re-use “grey” water (such as bath water, but not dishwasher water because of the salt) whenever possible or collect any rain water from gutters in water butts.
Help Trees for Cities to plant more trees
It has been well reported over the last decade that there is a decline in the number of urban trees. Many of our urban trees face unprecedented levels of threat due to climate change, pests and disease and we urgently need to plant more trees. Help Trees for Cities to plant 100,000 more trees this year, helping to make our cities greener places to live.