Stressful Year for Trees in Hamilton: How The City Is Responding

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Note: since I spoke with Murdoch Tuesday morning, the Hamilton Conservation Authority formally activated a Low Water Level alert.

I had the chance to briefly speak with the City of Hamilton’s Director of Environmental Services Craig Murdoch this morning about how his forestry division is responding to the current dry spell Hamilton is experiencing, specifically how the department is ensuring trees planted in recent years survive the dry spell.

Murdoch says the City requests residents to water trees planted by the City in front of homes and provides residents receiving a tree from the City’s free program a brochure explaining how to nurture and maintain the trees.  (The Sacramento Tree Foundation offers good advice on how to water a tree.)

Trees with watering bags in Great Britain. (Photo by Michael Trolove, CC-BY, http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3951445)

Trees with watering bags in Great Britain. (Photo by Michael Trolove, CC-BY, http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3951445)

For young trees in parks and other City-maintained public spaces, Murdoch says forestry waters the trees, on a 5-to-6 day cycle during dry spells, by filling watering bags (similar to those pictured right) which provide for a steady supply of moisture to support the trees until they form the deep root systems that enable older trees to endure dry spells.

Murdoch says that on average 14% of new trees do not survive their first two years.

Personally, I’ve noted a few dead trees in parks and it seems the dry spell is pushing that failure rate.

Murdoch is encouraging residents to water trees in front of their homes. The City’s lawn watering bylaw applies, meaning:

Hamilton’s Water Works By-law No. R84-026 restricts lawn and garden watering, car washing and sidewalk or roadway washing to every other day:

  • If your home is even-numbered you are permitted to water on even numbered days.
  • If your home has an odd-numbered you are permitted to water on odd-numbered days.

For those residents without a municipal address:

  • If you live on the west side or north side of the street you are permitted to water on odd-numbered days.
  • If you live on the east side or south side of the street you are permitted to water on even-numbered days.

While there are no time restrictions, unless notified by letter or through the media, it is best to water in the early morning or late evening when the water demand is lower.

 

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