01 February 2009

what every tree wants

Sun, air, water, soil. It seems so simple, right? Not so for a street tree in the big city. Trees here in NYC can have it pretty rough. But we need them. They clean our air and provide us with fresh oxygen. Their canopies, however modest, provide us with shade during the hot summer months. And street trees are a resting place for migrating and residents birds, providing us with an opportunity to watch nature run its course.

It's easy for us city dwellers to pass trees without a second thought -- we're often too busy going somewhere, texting and walking, or too busy minding our own business to notice.

But trees have needs and we need to tend to them.

This is what trees don't like:

1. Dog poop and pee (no it's not fertilizer and water!)
2. Tree guards that will eventually gird them (and then kill them)
3. Plant beds that come too high above the root line (rot!)
4. Rock salt, aka, halite or sodium chloride (damages the roots)*
5. Cars driving into them (ouch)
6. Compacted soil (so thirsty!)

*better alternatives include calcium chloride and coarse builder sand.

Street Tree DON'T

Sure, the guard saved it from a car's bumper,
but this London Plane may someday grow
into this tall guard

Street Tree DO

This guard allows the tree to grow out if it needs to

I learned all of this at a couple of workshops -- one put on by Trees New York and the other by the city's MillionTreesNYC program. If you're interested in caring for street trees, check with these organizations for free workshops throughout the year. City trees need all the help they can get!