by Marlene Berlin
DDOT’s street tree planting season has ended. Now, tree caring season begins.
Munevver Ertem, an arborist with DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration, tells me the agency planted more than 8,000 trees in the District from October through April. About 170 of these trees are in ANC 3F, and they include replacements for trees planted last year which did not survive.
Here is a map of the neighborhood’s new trees.
This is where we come in. Homeowners who have these new trees in front of their houses play a very important role in their survival. Urban Forestry will water the new trees, but it needs us to support its efforts through the hot summer months. The District’s arborists ask that we water new trees once per week if we do not get a soaking rain lasting more than three hours. The cloud bursts we get during Washington summers do not count.
Ertem explains how to take care of our trees:
We installed gator bags (green watering bags) around every tree we planted… We ask homeowners to help us fill these bags through the opening under the label at least once a week from spring to fall.
There are tiny holes under the bags that release water slowly to soak the soil around the root ball. You will also find trunk guards around the lower trunk to protect the tree against the tree trimmers.
We put a bag of mulch around the trees when we planted. Next spring homeowners can add another bag of mulch (wood chips 1” to 3” and away from the trunk). Mulch keeps the roots moist, prevents weed/grass growth to prevent competition for water, prevents soil compaction, and protects the tree from lawn mower/trimmer damage.
The newest trees aren’t the only ones that could use a drink during the hot summer months. Ertem also recommends that those of us who got new street trees last spring water them weekly through the summer.
Urban Forestry arborists will survey the trees under warranty at the end of summer and schedule warranty replacements if they die or do not thrive. Residents can report dead trees or any tree related requests such as tree planting, tree removal, tree pruning, and tree inspection either by calling 311 or at 311.dc.gov.
Let’s keep our trees happy and healthy and well-watered.