Help raise Richmond trees through the heat

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jun 28, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-28 16:35:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) As nature turns up the outdoor thermostat, a local group is asking you to turn on some water and help foster the young, newly planted Richmond trees through the hot summer.

The Richmond Tree Stewards, who work with the city, said that citizen assistance is critical to help keep the trees healthy and alive.

The city also offers an ‘Adopt A Tree’ program. Citizens make a $50 investment and sign an agreement to water and maintain the tree for two-years. But if you just want to help take care of some neighborhood trees during the summer heat, here are some tips.

The Tree Stewards recommend subscribing to the email list to receive alerts and information that they post as the summer grows hotter and drier. The website features prepared tips on how and when to water. Click over to their site and look for ‘Summer Tree Care”.

For example, did you know a new tree thirsts for 15 gallons of water? The Tree Stewards say that might seem like a lot of water, but it’s less than half of the water used for an average morning shower.

You can also contact the Tree Stewards to get a free gator bag, just click over to their website.

For trees without watering devices you can use five gallon buckets with several small holes drilled in the bottom or just water with slow flow from a garden hose.  

The stewards also say that the following guidelines apply to watering frequency:

  • Water from May – October for the first two years after planting.
  • Ideal – water once a week
  • Minimum – water once a month.  This will reduce mortality, but may not produce the healthiest tree.
  • Realistic – if you cannot water once a week all season, water once a week when the weather is very hot and dry.

The number of trees planted by the city has quadrupled in the past couple of years. In 2010, 400 trees were planted. In 2011 and 2012, 2,000 trees were planted, said Suzette Lyon, with the Tree Stewards.

Lyon said that It is much more efficient in many ways for an individual to water one or two trees because it saves time, money and fossil fuels that are expended when hauling water in a truck. She noted that watering 2,000 trees with a truck is extremely difficult task.   

Last year, John Chupek, with the City of Richmond Urban Forestry Division, said that a study done in 2009 shows a $1.36 return (city trees cost $2.09) for every invested dollar.

Trees not only beautify and provide shade, they also reduce CO2 emissions and storm-water runoff, provide windbreaks (in the winter), and keep the city cooler in the summer.

Lyon said the goal is to have a healthy urban canopy that is as large as possible.