Climate change is expected to bring warmer, wetter winters, warmer drier summers and rates of fire and insect disturbance are expected to increase. In addition, these effects will interact with existing urban stresses such as air pollution, soil compaction and heat island effects.
As our climate progressively changes, our young and stressed trees will take longer to grow and will require more care to stabilise to local conditions and reach maturity.
You can make a difference, by adopting and watering a tree in your street or local area. Water, mulch and soil improvements will all help improve the health of your tree.
Watering street trees
Trees depend heavily on water, and the use of grey water from baths, showers and washing machines (using biodegradable detergent) can help trees thrive.
It can be difficult to find an appropriate place for watering street trees. Large established trees have a root system that tends to be proportional with the tree’s canopy. The edge of the canopy is known as the drip line. Tree-lovers are encouraged to water these trees on the drip line.
Recently planted trees have been fitted with a watering well. These watering wells allow the water within to penetrate the tree’s root, as this is the most appropriate location for new trees to be watered.
Applying mulch at the base of a tree will help retain soil moisture and improve the soil profile. Free mulch is available at the South Melbourne Resource Recovery Centre.
Improving soil conditions
Because urban areas are highly used spaces, compaction and poor soil conditions can restrict access to moisture. For large trees, we encourage residents to help break the soil profile up with a pitchfork in a small section of the nature strip. This provides an area where water can be applied with ease.
The size of this area can be as little or as large as you can manage. Mulching will help the tree to retain the moisture over the warmer months.