Baltimore is neglecting its trees

July 11, 2011

I am a Baltimore resident who is saddened every year to watch so many city trees die needlessly due to lack of water. The city often does a poor job of planting trees, and I've observed trees being left near the planting sites for days to dry out before they are put in the ground. Then the soil in which they are planted is often poorly amended or completely unimproved.

I've witnessed many trees that were planted too low or too high in the ground. Frequently, they are not mulched or sometimes mulched with fresh wood chips which suck some of the nitrogen from the soil, rather than aged mulch which returns nutrients and better retains moisture. But more than anything, I see trees dying for lack of water. Often, this happens to trees that have recently replaced other young trees that have died for lack of water. Northern Parkway is a prime example of a road where residents can see trees that are in shock, dying, or dead for lack of water on their daily commutes. The waste and lack of common sense are infuriating.

Baltimore's slogan of "cleaner and greener" seems hollow when it comes to urban forestry. The city could save money by watering the trees it has planted in the past 12-to-18 months, reducing high mortality rates. Many municipalities have watering trucks to protect their investment in trees and other plantings. Wise investments in urban trees improve property values and neighborhood pride and reduce residents' energy costs in summer. Having a wise tree planting policy and a well-run watering program would make a big difference in our city.

Peter Dunn, Baltimore

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