Our trees are dying where they stand

Photo of a dying and drying tree at a Washington, DC park.

A drying and dying tree. Park near 7th Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC. July 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of Shuhratjon Ahmadjonov

Some trees are drying up in Washington, DC. I’ll list six reasons.

First, Washington DC’s summers are known to be hot and humid with an average daily temperature in July of 79.8 degrees Fahrenheit. In July and early August, that is, at the height of summer, the heat indicators reach 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Second, in summer, it rains little, once or twice a week. Rainwater does not reach the crown and roots of the tree. After all, the leaves of the tree grow densely and tightly, and they do not allow the penetration of a drop of rain. The drops will pass only in the case of prolonged rain, when the leaves are completely wet. This is clearly not enough for a tree in hot conditions.

Third, some young trees are planted at ground level, that is, they do not make a groove around the seedling. Under these conditions, rainwater does not accumulate under the tree and flows away.

Fourth, usually when planting a seedling, the ground is laid lower than the sidewalk. Thus, the flow of rainwater under the tree is ensured. Every year, organic mulch is poured around some trees, which contains compost, tree bark chips, wheat straw and others. This does not remove old mulch deposits. As a result, over time, the embankment around the tree becomes higher than the sidewalk and rainwater stops flowing under the tree.

Fifth, the number of cars and their exhaust gases is increasing in the United States, including Washington DC, from year to year.

Sixth, Washington DC residents are indifferent to drying out trees. One example: I sell “Street Sense” on Saturdays near Eastern Market at the corner of North Carolina Ave SE and 7th St SE.

A real estate agency on North Carolina Avenue is located nearby. In front of the entrance to the office, various plants, including flowers, are planted on both sides of the sidewalk. Several times I saw an office worker sprinkle water on plants from a hose. On the morning of July 24, 2021, the worker began to water the plants. When he approached, I said to him: “Please pour water under this tree, too. Look, it dries up. I poured out two gallons of water. But that’s not enough for such a large tree.” He looked at the tree and, seeming to agree, answered briefly. But he finished watering and went to his office. He didn’t pour water under the tree.

For these reasons, some trees in Washington, D.C., begin to dry out and they die while standing.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation and landscaping experts, trees have many advantages.

Trees make our life better.

Life boils bubbles around the trees: birds eat insects, squirrels feed on seeds and nuts, bees and butterflies drink nectar and also feed on trees. The drying out of the tree means the end of life around it.

Trees process nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide. Foliage shade cools the air and reduces smog levels by 6%.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and gives off four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. So every tree you planted and saved helps the planet breathe and you personally, and your children.

Deciduous trees provide shade for the home on hot days. The net cooling effect of a healthy young tree is equivalent to working 10 air conditioners 20 hours per day.

If the house is protected from the wind by trees, it will be warmer in winter and thus you will save energy used for heating. Properly placed trees around buildings can reduce the need for air conditioning by 30%t and can save 20-50% of the energy used for heating.

Trees can also protect you from noise.

If you decide to sell your plot with a house, then the presence of trees on it will help increase the value. Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values ​​by 10 – 20%.

We can have all of these benefits if our fellow citizens begin to water a few gallons of water under a drying tree during the hot days of July and August.

Shuhratjon Ahmadjonov is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.

Issues |Environment

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