Spring Spruce-up for Street Trees

Crocuses brighten a spring tree bed. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.

Pamper your street tree bed with some seasonal TLC.

March: Remove any evergreen branches, salt-splattered mulch, and dog waste. Flush the bed’s soil with water, slowly and deeply, using a leaky old trash can filled with water or a hose set to a gentle dribble. Next, apply a two- to three-inch layer of fresh wood chips or other mulch to the bed. Mulch should never touch the bark—keep it at least six inches away from the trunk—and never mound it up like a volcano.

April: Resume watering your street tree weekly. Did you know that the cost of adequately watering a young tree from April to December (15 to 20 gallons per week) is only $2.88? That’s about the price of a half-gallon of milk!

May: If the bulbs you planted last fall are blooming, give yourself a pat on the back! Groom your tree bed by using a trowel or hand cultivator to lightly loosen the top one to three inches of soil and mulch. When creating a tree bed garden, never add soil to the bed. Keep the tree’s health your first priority and plant only small, shallow-rooted annuals or perennials. If your neighbors also care for their trees, consider entering the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest!

June: Weed and tidy your tree bed as needed. Continue watering weekly. Take time to admire your stewardship and enjoy a cold glass of water yourself.

For more tree bed recommendations, see Street Tree Bed Care: Give Trees a Chance and Plants for Tree Beds. Contact me at mobrien@bbg.org with your tree care questions.

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