As Drought Marches on, Can Chicagoans Help Save 10,000 Trees?
The middle of the United States hasn’t seen a drought as destructive as this summer’s since 1956, and the results are no joke: In the plains, corn farmers are looking on as wave after wave of heat punishes their fields. In the west, ranchers searching for grass for their cattle are coming up with nothing more than scorched earth, devastated by wildfires. In the cities, government agencies are trying to figure out how to keep thousands of young trees alive. With the help of a community group, Chicago’s come up with a plan to potentially stave off disaster: by asking the community to crowdsource watering.
The Chicago Park District maintains about 250,000, but about 10,000 have been planted in the past three years. Young trees are particularly at risk for disease if they don’t get watered regularly, and the city doesn’t have the manpower to keep up, so many trees are hydrated without the help of a healthy amount of rainfall. As Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Park, a nonprofit preservation group, told Treehugger, “We’re in a crisis situation with the hottest summer in history. It would be a tremendous loss of trees, and the environmental benefits they provide by shading and cooling neighborhoods.”
The group has provided the following tips to Chicago residents about how to help keep young trees alive during trying times, but they’re relevant to anyone living in a drought-ravaged town this summer:
- Keep an eye our for young trees in your neighborhood. If you have one within the range of your home’s hose, the simplest way to help would be to water it yourself. If you own a hose but don’t live within watering range of a young tree, you can bring your hose to the park and look for a hook-up to show young trees some love. And finally, if you don’t have a hose but are planning a day in the park, consider bring a gallon bucket of water with you to the park.
- When watering, keep the following in mind: don’t do it in the middle of the day. The water’s likely to evaporate in the heat of the sun, and can actually burn plants. Aim your hose at the tree’s root ball, the area surrounding the base. This helps young roots establish themselves. A deep watering once a day is better than frequent lighter waterings.
- And finally, if you plan on barbequing in a park, be sure to never dump hot coals near trees.