Drought taking a toll on ‘neglected’ Calgary trees: gardening expert

File / Global News

The City of Calgary needs to be doing more to make sure its trees are healthy, according to a local gardening expert.

Meryl Coombs, president and GM of Spruce It Up Garden Centre told the Morning News on 770 CHQR Wednesday that the summer heat is taking a toll on trees that have already suffered from everything from drought to Snowtember in 2014.

With the extreme heat this summer, some trees are already shedding their leaves due to a lack of moisture, Coombs said.

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READ MORE: Calgary still recovering 1 year after Snowtember

“You’re really seeing it on the city trees, like the elm trees,” said Coombs.

Coombs, who hosts 770 CHQR’s Let’s Talk Gardening, said the city needs to spend more time on maintenance of older trees.

“They’re in rough shape,” he said. “I’ve sort of been on them (the city) a bit on my show, just saying, ‘I just wish they would get into the maintenance program a bit, instead of planting more trees.’ We really should be looking after what we have in this city.”

“Our canopy is just getting decimated.”

Jeannette Wheeler, Urban Forestry Lead with the City of Calgary said their goal is to preserve the canopy.

Since the Snowtember event, the city has allocated thousands of dollars each year to replant tree, which doesn’t include the 3,500 trees planted each year just to maintain the status quo.

“With our urban canopy we need to plant a minimum of 3,500 trees to maintain what we have,” Wheeler said.

As for concerns about the health of mature trees, Wheeler said, other than pruning, they are pretty much left alone because they have an established root system.

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READ MORE: Calgary to plant 7,500 trees, prune 84K on final year of ‘Snowtember’ plan

Meanwhile , there are steps you can take to keep the trees on your property healthy in these dry conditions.

Coombs said people should put their water hose on a slow trickle and water each tree for several hours.

“You should be watering your trees individually, and not wasting water so it’s running down the street.”

“Put it on each tree, at a really slow trickle so it’s barely coming out of the hose. Leave it on for four or five hours, each tree.”



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