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Toronto trees dying of thirst

A very healthy tree in Toronto's High Park.
A very healthy tree in Toronto's High Park.

Jill Colton, staff writer

July 21, 2011 — With the recent stretch of excruciating high temperatures coupled with a lack of rainfall, Toronto is experiencing drought conditions. This is having a disastrous affect on newly planted trees.

Brown, shriveled leaves and patches of dead grass are lining the roads throughout Toronto. According to City of Toronto officials, newly planted trees are struggling under the overwhelmingly hot weather.

In fact, many of them are dying and even larger more mature trees are suffering.

The city has been stifling to say the least over the past few days. Temperatures spiked to a record breaking 37.9 degrees Thursday, making it the hottest July day ever recorded at Pearson Airport.

To make matters worse, only 4.4 mm of rain has fallen across the region so far this month. The average for July is 74.4 mm. This has left the ground tinder-dry -- a big problem for tree growth.

Lack of water can seriously hamper a tree's immune system. This can leave it vulnerable to diseases and various insect pests, ultimately resulting in death.

Trees need water too!  Don't forget to give them a good soak.
Trees need water too! Don't forget to give them a good soak.

In order to stop the greenery from expiring, residents are being called on to help.

Officials are asking people to break out their hoses and saturate trees on their own property and on city boulevards and local parks.

City trees on residential properties also need a good helping of water. Officials are asking for allowance on private front yards.

Contractors and city operations staff have been working steadily watering newly planted trees, but the fact is, they cannot keep up with the need for watering.

And don't be concerned with over-soaking the roots. All trees need at least 20 litres of water a day --roughly two pails or two minutes soaking time. And young saplings require even more water. Remember, the trees have barely seen any hydration this month, so they're especially thirsty.

Here are some tips for watering trees and plants in order to keep them healthy:

  • Soak the soil slowly around the tree to make sure the roots get moisture.
  • Less evaporation occurs if you water in the early morning or evening.
  • During periods of little or no rain, new trees should be watered about twice a week.
  • Let water soak in - donít apply water faster than your soil can soak it up.

With files from the City of Toronto

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