Water your street’s trees and help them survive the drought

Street trees do help improve the urban environment. Photographs: Lucinda Offer

A few spots of rain in the last couple of days will do little to help break the three-month spring drought we have had.
LUCINDA OFFER says that there is an important way we can all help our street trees to survive

While we’ve been enjoying the sunny weather, it’s not been great news for young trees.

According to the Met Office, England has just had the driest May on record, with just 17 per cent of normal rain levels.

Along with their vital roles converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and providing habitat for wildlife, mature street trees provide us with much-needed shade on hot, sunny days. They generally make for a more pleasant environment.

Once given the chance to grow, street trees offer shade on the hottest days

Each winter, Croydon Council plants young trees to replace those that have died or had to be removed due to damage or disease.

New trees are supported by wooden stakes for their first few years and a tube is dug into the ground next to them, to help water reach their roots. In these early years, the trees haven’t yet developed deep roots, so they’re vulnerable to dying during dry periods.

This is where we can all help, by watering young trees in our area.

The newest trees often have a small laminated notice on them asking for help watering them, and they may have a label showing their species. All recently planted trees should have a black tube sticking out of the ground next to them.

Staked young trees usually have a tube to help get water to the roots

Ideally water early in the morning or late in the evening, when it’s cooler.

Give one or two full watering cans around once a week, or smaller amounts more often if this is more manageable for you.

If there’s a black tube in the ground next to the tree, pour water down it to reach the roots, plus some on top of the soil, but try to ensure it soaks in and doesn’t run off.

Don’t water if the ground is soggy – too much water could harm the tree.

If you use a hose, make sure it’s not a trip hazard to passers-by.

Make sure you’re in a safe place, not at risk from traffic and able to social distance from other pedestrians and cyclists.

To help ensure trees aren’t missed, Croydon-based startup TiCL has been helping people set up local watering groups using their location-based app.

If you live in an area with several young trees, it may be easier to coordinate with other local people to water trees. TiCL, Twitter, Facebook groups and local residents’ associations may be helpful.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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