Lambeth has around 11,000 street trees, but many of them have been struggling during the extremely dry and hot weather. Some trees have died, including mature ones, meaning that urgent action was needed to avoid a potential crisis.
The council has been carrying out extra watering, but more has been needed and the borough’s Neighbourhood Champions have stepped up. Neighbourhood Champions are residents who work with their neighbours and the council to improve their local environment and strengthen their communities.
The council emailed them to ask for their help with watering street trees and offered to provide watering cans to anybody who needed one.
Many Neighbourhood Champions responded saying they’d already been watering their streets’ trees, and many more said they would start, with 25 Champions taking up the council’s offer of a watering can.
Cllr Rezina Chowdhury, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth & Clean Air, said she has been impressed by the response. She said: “This goes to show that when there’s an opportunity for people to help their local area, Lambeth’s residents respond in the best possible way.
“Having the Neighbourhood Champions and being able to work with and support them has potentially helped us prevent the deaths of many trees, vital in helping meet the challenges presented by the climate emergency.”
The watering cans have now been distributed to their recipients, including Ariel from Brixton. Ariel was delighted to receive her watering can which will help her care for trees on her estate and nearby street. She said: “I feel that Brixton is such a large part of my identity, so I’m really pleased to be able to give something back to my local community.”
Monir El Moudden, who is also a Neighbourhood Champion, said: “Over the last few weeks, a dozen residents from Oval Quarter have volunteered, bringing out their watering cans, buckets, and even bottles to water our local street trees.
“The response from the local community has been tremendous and really shows how much people care about the environment, and the importance of keeping our trees healthy. It’s fantastic to be part of a team that can make a big difference to living in a happier and greener place for everyone to enjoy.
“The Environmental Services at Lambeth have also been very helpful, offering volunteers with a supply of watering cans and training in basic tree inspection and care.”
Anyone can help look after their street’s trees, and Lambeth’s Parks team has provided the following guidelines:
- Ideally, a tree needs 50 litres of water 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, for example with 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.
Lambeth residents who’d like to receive a watering can or become a Neighbourhood Champion can do so by emailing email@example.com.