In the recent 40 degree heatwave, water and shade were vital to helping us cool down. But the trees that give us shade can’t get out of the sun. Some are literally dying for a drink. Lambeth Council is rolling out extra watering for the borough’s precious trees to help them survive an extended spell of hot, dry weather – and is also asking residents to help out.
When, where, what and how we water
Lambeth Council has planted hundreds of new trees on streets. Even when rain soaks our streets, it doesn’t give trees a drink – it runs into drains. We need people to give something back to the trees that protect our environment – just water, just twice a week. Take a bucket of water – or two big jugs – and slowly give your nearest tree’s roots a slow drink. Trees are (as you might expect) environmentally friendly and love recycled water – from a bath, washing up, or rain barrel.
Lambeth’s Parks Team, who care for hundreds of trees, advise:
- Ideally, a tree needs 50 litres (just under 3 bucketfuls) a week – or as much or as little as can be managed for young trees.
- Water mature trees only if they look like they’re suffering with the drought, e.g. leaves recently turned brown.
- Water when it’s cooler – early morning or evening.
- Some young trees have a watering pipe, pour half the water down that and the other half onto the tree.
- Some have a watering bag – just fill it up. Check the water is slowly percolating out over a few hours.
- Water the ground around the base of trees slowly so that the water is absorbed rather than running off.
- Where possible, use saved rainwater or ‘grey water’ from the shower, bath, paddling pools or even washing up. You can use grey water even during a hosepipe ban.
If you share a tree with neighbours, can you take it in turns, and both water your tree once a week. Try your street’s Whatsapp? or Facebook group about setting up a rota to get trees in the street watered when there’s no rain.
- Download the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) publication Sustainable water management, free from their website
- More about Lambeth’s Green Spaces