Park Board urges residents to water trees during dry spell

Minneapolis residents aren't the only ones affected by this summer's high temperatures - the trees are also feeling the heat.

Trees throughout the city are showing signs of stress, such as wilting branches and brown leaves, and dry soil conditions and a lack of water may cause many to die. To help save the trees, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's Forestry Section is asking Minneapolis residents to participate in its &#8220Adopt a Tree” program by watering newly planted boulevard trees.

About 3,500 trees were planted this spring, said the Forestry Section's Forest Program Manager Jim Herman. Plants use three to five times as much water during the summer as they do during the milder seasons, according to Scott Vreeland of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Forestry Section advises watering newly planted trees once every seven to 10 days. The trees need to be watered even after it rains, as restoring the moisture level of the soil would take a 3-inch rainfall.

To properly water a tree, place a garden hose under the tree and let the water run slowly for two hours, or slowly apply at least 20 gallons of water around the tree. Frequent light watering can lead to vulnerable, shallow root systems.

Mulch can also help keep soil moist and trees healthy. An affective amount of mulch - such as woodchips - is a 4- to 6-inch layer around a tree's trunk. Young or newly planted trees should have at least a 2-foot radius of mulch around their trunks, while older trees should have a radius of 6 feet. The mulch should be kept a few inches away from the tree trunk, rather than piled up next to the trunk, to help that area remain dry and clear of harmful insects.

Anyone needing woodchips can pick them up for free, courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's Forestry Section, at 15 neighborhood sites located throughout the city. The sites and more information about the &#8220Adopt a Tree” program can be found at www.minneapolisparks.org.