Growing Ward 29's tree canopy
by Leigh Davidson
The brief rainstorms of recent weeks are not enough for trees. New, young trees are especially vulnerable but older trees need water too.
If you have a brand new City tree, with or without a watering bag, the contractor waters during first year but it is NOT enough. Some contracts cover as little as 8 x in the whole season.
Please spread the word with your neighbours. And if you live near a City tree, take it a few buckets of love!
The following how-to is copied from LEAF’s tree care guide.
Water Every Week!
The most important factor in growth rate and vigour of a tree is water. Toronto has experienced severe drought for the last several summers. When it does rain, most of the water runs off paved surfaces into the storm sewers, never reaching the trees that desperately need it. Most trees (even large, mature ones) don’t get the water they need. Almost every tree in Toronto will experience drought stress this summer, making them vulnerable to pest and disease attacks.
If you notice leaf discolouration, deformation, wilting or loss, your tree may be experiencing severe drought. The soil under the mulch around your tree should always feel slightly damp and cool. If it doesn’t, then run for the hose!
For the first two years after planting, water for 15-20 minutes, twice per week. In the third year, change the watering frequency to one hour, once per week to give your tree periodic, deep soakings. A soaker hose spread in concentric circles, out to the edge of the tree’s canopy, is the best way to water. If you don’t have a soaker hose, you can place a hose without a nozzle in the root area of your tree on a very slow trickle. Move the hose to a new area under the tree periodically to ensure all roots get even watering. Never use a sprinkler to water, since wet leaves are often prone to fungal disease.
It is possible to over-water trees as well. Ensure that there is no standing water under your tree. If the soil is sopping wet after watering, you may need to reduce the duration and/or frequency. This is usually only an issue in poorly drained clay or compacted soils.
See also LEAF’s mulching tips on the same page. That is a great way to keep moisture in, provide your tree with nutrients, and protect it from slow death by weed whacker or lawn mower.