It has been a really wonderful summer this year but it has been very dry. Our trees are very thirsty. It is time to Water Our Trees!
Trees are VERY important to the liveability, the ecological integrity and the beauty of our city. They are under stress and we have the capacity to help them out.
We can water the trees in our yards and the trees on our boulevard. Some people resent that they are watering city trees but they are not the city trees – they are our trees. If we help take care of them it will save us tax money, it will increase the resell value of our homes (having a mature healthy tree compared to a new immature tree), and it will help create civic pride. We can save the trees.
The best way to do this is to use a root watering spike. The ones you can buy at most greenhouse/garden centres/hardware stores is like the one in the photograph below (I got mine from Apache Seeds several years ago). This puts the water directly into the ground a couple of feet down.
If you don’t want to get another item you can slowly soak the ground around the tree. I mean slowly! Just lay the open end of your hose along the drip line (look up at the tree and gauge where the outermost edge of the leaves is – this is the drop line – where the rain runs off the leaves) and water there. This is where the roots that soak up the water. Water should not run off to the gutter but just soak in.
This may take a couple of hours. You want the water to thoroughly soak the ground and deeply. Watering your trees slowly takes time. A couple of hours so use a timer to remind you to move the hose so that the tree(s) gets soaked all around their root system.
I use a Ross Root Feeder (bought from Apache Seeds in Edmonton) so that the water is injected below the surface. It will go down almost a metre below the surface and you will provide water water you want the water to be.
Another positive reason to put water as deep as you can instead of lightly watering the surface without getting the water to soak in is that the roots will move towards the source of the water. So if you are continuously lightly watering the surface around the trees the roots will rise searching for water and that in turn will cause problems with your garden, concrete, sidewalks, lawn, etc.
For growth it is important to water at the drip line but for winter it is great to also water much closer to the truck because we want to have the ground freeze in a ball around the root ball so that the tree does not wake up during the warm times during the winter. Freezing of the root ball will allow the tree to stay dormant the whole time that it should.
Happy trees = happy city = Happy citizens 🙂
Also look at the water meter before you start. You want to use a couple of cubic metres of water per large tree. At $3.50 a cubic metre it is a small price to pay for a healthy tree and do your part for the health of the tress of our city.
Trees are so vital to the health of our city – they help keep it cool in the summer, they clean the air, they add moisture to the air, they hold the ground in place and help reduce erosion, they help reduce noise pollution, they add beauty and grace to the landscape, they provide leaves (rich carbon material) for people to use for their compost bins, and they connect us with the natural world.
For more information about using leaves to make leaf mold or in composting, please check out my blog post at Composting Edmonton.
Check out the map of the trees that have been planted by the city of Edmonton. This is fantastic information and just shows you the vast number of trees (over 300,000) that are being grown and cared for us by the city. Unfortunately, the city does not often goes into neighbourhoods and water the trees (I think it is twice a year). As homeowners and citizens of Edmonton we can enrich our community by supplementing the watering the trees not on our property.
So take some time over the next few days, and really soak in your trees to help them through this dry spell. Your neighbours will appreciate, your children will appreciate it, our taxes will appreciate it, and you will likely feel good you did something for the collective commons. Thank you.
The photographs in this post are of me watering the trees at our downtown store. I try and do this once a week or two with 40 – 60 litres of water.
Update – October 4th – I watered in my trees at home with a root feeder/soaker and I used over 5 cubic metres of water plus over 500 litres from my rain barrels. It took over 5 hours to do this and about every 15 -20 minutes to go out and change the position of the feeder/soaker. This was the second soaking of the trees. I put over 3 cubic metres the first time. I feel this is still quite insignificant compared to how much the trees would normally get with a good rain and not as deep as I would like – but it is better than not providing the water to them.