Get Ready to Water Your Street Trees

Photo by Jon Hayes Photography.

If you’re looking for something to be cheerful about these days, consider this: Mother Nature doesn’t have to quarantine herself. The spring can keep coming, regardless of what humans are doing, or not doing. Life, for humans, will eventually go on. But life for everything else isn’t going to stop in the first place. And for no creatures is that truer that it is for trees. Soon they–at least the street ones–will need your help. And if you’re looking for something productive to do, get you and your block ready to care for its trees once the leaves sprout!

Until then, you don’t need to start watering. But it will become necessary sooner than you think. So if you have a young tree on the sidewalk in front of your house or apartment, please, please keep it in mind this summer and water it. This is especially true if it was newly planted (and the city just finished with its planting effort). The basic goal you should have is to water young trees at least once a week, so long as you get a good 20-25 gallons of water. If you can’t water the new trees, try to find a neighbor who can.

The preferred watering device is the ooze tube (the bags that go around the bottom of the trees). You can differentiate them from the not-preferred gator bags because the gator bags have zippers. (They’re not preferred because they can create an unhealthy environment around the trunk and you have to remove them after each use.) With the ooze tube you can just fill it up and let it go.

If you don’t have an ooze tube, you can just leave a hose trickling into the tree box for 30 minutes to an hour.

Once a tree is mature, you can stop watering it. By then the roots are so spread out under the sidewalk that it doesn’t need your help anymore (although during any particularly dry periods, it can’t hurt to water it). At what point does a tree become “mature”? That depends on the tree. It’s better safe than sorry so you might as well do it for the first eight years or so.

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