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City of Kelowna asking residents to help water street trees during drought

The city is asking residents and homeowners to help care for young trees planted on streets and boulevards near where they live. Global News

If there’s a tree on your street, please lend it a watering hand.

That’s what the City of Kelowna is asking residents to do, with the Okanagan currently under drought conditions.

“Due to the recent dry weather, trees are struggling to get enough water,” the city said in a press release. “To thrive, young trees need a bucket of water per week for at least the first three years after they’re planted.”

Read more: Okanagan bracing for what could be a severe drought this summer

The city says it doesn’t have irrigation in all of its boulevards, and not all of its trees are irrigated throughout the city.

“We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented drought and not all of our trees are irrigated,” said Andrew Hunsberger, the city’s urban forestry supervisor, in making the request for help from Kelowna residents.

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“We’re asking homeowners to help us care for the young trees planted on streets and boulevards near their homes. By working together to keep these trees healthy, we can all do our part to grow and nurture our urban tree canopy in Kelowna.”

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While residents are annually asked to conserve water during summer, the city says young trees will not survive without proper watering, and that trees provide a lot of benefits.

“Water is a precious resource and we need to think carefully about how and when we use it,” said Hunsberger.

Read more: Increased concern for drought and wildfires in B.C.: How climate change could be playing a role

“However, Kelowna’s tree canopy is also an incredibly important part of our city and will pay us back with shade that will reduce water use in the future.”

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The city offered the following tips for watering street trees:

  • For a small tree, use a filled, five-gallon bucket, once a week.
  • Slowly release water at the base for at least 15 minutes, one to two times per week.
  • Let water slowly soak into the ground to encourage a healthy root system.
  • Water during cooler times of the day; trees will soak up more water when it’s cooler.
  • Water even if it rains. Kelowna does not typically get enough rain to keep our trees hydrated.
  • Only water the trees; do not prune or cut any city-owned trees.

The city says urban trees improve air quality and the average Canadian tree is estimated to remove approximately 200 kilograms of carbon from the environment over an 80-year lifespan.

For more about the city’s tree program, visit this webpage or its Neighbourwoods initiative.

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