Wednesday, July 22, 2009


trees are dying all around the city. see this post from yesterday. the lack of rain we've had since late june is esepcially stressful to the young, newly planted trees lining our streets.

just because we had a very wet may and june doesn't mean that the ground has stayed wet around the roots of these young trees. street trees need 20 gallons of water a week, and they need it now. go outside tomorrow when you have 5 minutes and pour a bucket of water over the roots of the tree in front of your house. if you have an outdoor hose, run it out there and soak the roots for a few minutes. keep doing this for the rest of the summer!

these pictures show a tree at 14th and R streets nw, with an 'ooze tube' around the base. unfortunately, there's no water in this ooze tube. it serves absolutely no purpose if it's not filled with water.

you can see that this ooze tube says "the mayor's green summer job corps" on it, as well as a logo for ddot. it's great that the city is installing these ooze tubes on trees, but let's be real for a minute here—they need to fill them up upon initial installation and coach the people who live next to these trees (or the adjacent businesses) how to use them.

as it stands, these are just pretty brown plastic doughnuts that serve absolutely no purpose...

please, mayor fenty and the dc government, invest a little more effort into the trees you've spent so much money to plant along our streets. it's criminal to not take care of such a valuable investment!


Mari said...

Problem is when you didn't ask for the tree. Which seems to be most of the time. One brown/black/plastic thumbed neighbor of mine angrily called up and had a new tree removed from her tree box.
Not everyone cares about trees or wants to be bothered with them. Also their is a failure to build buy in from the exact people the city is demanding care from. It seems to be a lack of buy in from the kids installing them by not putting water in. Going through the motions but lacking in belief.

IMGoph said...

i don't mean to be a jerk, mari, but i think the "i didn't ask for the tree" argument is horribly selfish.

we're all part of a larger community, in both area and in time. just because you don't want the tree now doesn't mean you shouldn't water it, nurture it, and help bring it to maturity for the next generation of people who will live on your block.

we're all stewards of our city, and we should try to pass along good things to the future, i'd argue.

Unknown said...

And after you took that picture you got a bucket and put water into the ooze tube, right?

I agree with you completely though.

Anonymous said...

So the city should get consent from every household before they put a tree in a block? That would make for some pretty nasty looking streetscapes. No, they should require that homeowners water street trees as a necessary part of living in the city, just as they demand that we shovel snow from the sidewalks.

bamoll said...

Word, IMGoph.

jimbo said...

I was just thinkin' the other day that my trees looked stressed out and watered them all. While June was fabulous with all the rain, July has been brutal for plants. Yeah I see a lot of those cheap gator-like bags completely empty. They don't do much good when they're not full!

Anonymous said...

Oh I've been wondering what the brown bags that started showing up in my neighborhood were. They are kind of ugly, but now that I know they may do some good, I will hate them less.

Alex said...

Oh my god, I can't believe this line "Problem is when you didn't ask for the tree". And even worse, the next sentence about the neighbor angrily calling up and having a tree removed. What a douche that neighbor must be.

Good to know what the brown bags are for. I've long wondered what kind of care the tree in front of my house needs. Beyond watering, fertilizing? It's hard to find an authoritative source on street tree care.

Jill said...

Hi-this is Jill from the Green Summer program--our teams are working faster than expected, which is why empty tubes have appeared, but a watering truck is moving through the city to fill the Ooze Tubes that are installed. The youth on our tree teams are definitely eager to see the tubes filled and even have called in from the field to make sure that the watering is going to keep up with the progress they are making! For those interested in street tree care, the teams are also weeding and mulching tree boxes of newly planted trees and we'd love to see that continue once the summer program ends. For more information, please feel free to email

Anonymous said...

There are some who see tree boxes only as city property. DC put the trees in; DC should take care of them. When the city got interested (thank God) in fixing the trees, did anyone tell these folks about the New Tree Order? Is anyone making any effort to educate folks who know not how to take care of a tree?

Most of those who live near a dying tree, I suspect, are just indifferent. And/or they're busy. And/or they don't appreciate or value the tree. And/or they don't want to boost their water bill.

Or they're just one of those who ignores responsibility to behave responsibly in any public space. They're the serial litterers, late-night screamers, bass-thumping clown car drivers, public urinators.

Those bags, though? They're eyesores.