Chicago, like the rest of the country, is in the grips of record heat and drought. The mild winter that resulted in little snow coupled with the heat is creating a dangerous situation for the trees in public parks.
I spoke with Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks, about the recent plea sent out to residents of Chicago imploring them to pitch in and water trees in their local parks. She told me that of the 250,000 trees under the park district’s care, 10,000 of them are young trees planted within the past three years.
That’s a lot of trees that the park district doesn’t have the man power or equipment to keep watered. These young trees are the most susceptible to drought and succumbing to diseases when they are stressed.
“We’re in a crisis situation with the hottest summer in history," says Tranter. “It would be a tremendous loss of trees, and the environmental benefits they provide by shading and cooling neighborhoods.”
How you can help newly planted trees beat the heat in Chicago and in your city
1. If you know that trees were planted within the past three years Friends of the Park recommends the following:
2. Pull a water hose from your house to water the trees if you live across from a park.
3. If there’s an existing water source at the park: bring a hose to hook up to the connection and water the trees.
4. Bring a gallon of water to pour at the base of young trees if you don't have access to a hose.
5. Watering in the early morning or early in the evening is best. Do not water trees during the middle of the day.
6. Do not water at the base of the trunk to prevent rotting and fungal attacks of stressed trees.
7. If you see anyone grilling remind them not to dump hot coals near trees.
How are the trees in your city holding up in the heat? Are you helping supplement their watering?