Acts of Tree Kindness: Food and Water

In the first two posts we looked at how we can stop and notice the trees that are around us, and use creative ways to record and share them with others. Today we focus on some practical steps you can take to make sure that the trees near where you live can survive and grow.

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Photograph/Tweet: Abundance London

On May 1st, The Arboricultural Association and Tree Officer Groups launched a tree watering campaign:

‘The Arboricultural Association, London Tree Officers Association (LTOA), Municipal Tree Officers Association (MTOA) and the Association of Tree Officers (ATO) have launched a campaign to ensure that newly planted trees are watered regularly over the summer months, highlighting the fact that young tree maintenance is just as important as planting.

The dry weather which much of the UK experienced during April raised the question about how trees might be affected by COVID-19 if those people who ordinarily water them are no longer able to do so. Hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted over the last couple of years, but without proper aftercare they will not make it into maturity.’

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The campaign includes making posters and tags available to the public, which can be printed at home and the tags attached to trees. They are available to download here.

As an example of what can happen when the aftercare of newly planted trees isn’t made a priority, have a look at this article from The Independent on the thousands of trees that died after being planted by HS2 contractors:

‘Tens of thousands of trees planted to mitigate the environmental impact of the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) route have died following the 2018 summer drought. More than one-third of saplings planted in 2017-18 had to be replaced a year later, bosses admitted, as they said putting in new plants was cheaper than keeping the old ones alive.’

On a happier note, this is something that we all can do to help trees. Just fill up an old milk bottle or similar and take it with you on your daily walk. If you are unsure whether a young tree needs watering, take a look at these tips from Cambridge City Council who have invited local people to help them water newly planted trees over the Spring and Summer months, and this information provided by Wandsworth Borough Council:

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How about feeding? Do trees need us to feed them? Established trees growing in good soil should be fine and not need additional feeding, but many young trees could do with a helping hand in the form of mulch. Some street trees are planted into pretty poor soil and cramped spaces and we will be looking at making space for trees in tomorrow’s Acts of Tree Kindness post.

A mulch is something we spread around the base of a tree to hold in moisture and release additional nutrients as it breaks down, such as bark chippings or compost. A mulch can also help prevent competition for space for young trees from other plants. In addition mulching can support a tree’s resilience against disease:

‘Introducing mulch will stimulate and add diversity to below ground organisms that in turn can act as antagonists to the presence of pathogens such as Honey Fungus. An impoverished/compacted soil with grass provides little resistance to the spread of rhizomorphs..’

Tree Care Info (website and online forum)

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Photo: James Aldridge

If you are growing trees for fruit, then take a look at this information from the Royal Horticultural Society on feeding and mulching. We will be writing about the role of trees in urban food and farming in Thursday’s Acts of Tree Kindness post.

As always, if you are inspired by this post to help your own local trees, please take a photo and tag it with the #ActsOfTreeKindness hashtag on social media, so we can spread the word together.

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