Toronto’s gardens and young trees are thirsty (news release)

News Release

August 23, 2013

Toronto’s gardens and young trees are thirsty

Toronto’s tree canopy provides great health and recreation benefits to residents, and now our trees can use your help to stay healthy.

The city has received very little rain in the past three weeks – a stark contrast after all the rain Toronto had this spring and into July. Local vegetation is now showing signs of drought. Rains in the summer are often localized or brief. Soil becomes so dry that water may simply run off the surface and not penetrate into the ground where it can be taken up by tree roots. People are encouraged to water gardens and young trees regularly to help keep the soil moist. When it does rain, the moist soil will absorb the rain better and there will be less water runoff.

Trees need water to survive. During a drought, water movement from the roots to leaves decreases and trees invest energy into new root growth. If moisture is not located by tree roots, roots will be severed to protect from water loss. Leaves yellow or wilt, followed by leaf drop. It is important to water before root and leaf loss occurs to keep trees healthy.

Maintaining newly planted trees

For the first two to three years after a tree is planted, the area around the base should be kept moist at all times. Every available method should be used to keep the area moist, especially during periods when there is little or no rainfall. To conserve on water, use water from a rain barrel, a children’s splash pool or the water collected by a dehumidifier.

Mulch should be placed around the base of the tree to keep the soil moist. Keep mulch 15 cm from the base of the tree. Piling mulch against the tree can cause the bark to decay and lead to insect and disease problems. Specialized tree water bags or drip hoses may also be used to release water slowly and in a way that prevents run-off and aids soil absorption.

The amount of water a tree needs varies depending on the type of soil used, the location of the tree and the weather. It is important not to let the planting area dry out.

Benefits from trees

Trees can increase the value of homes significantly. Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of a house can reduce air conditioning needs substantially. Evergreens planted on the north side of a house act as windbreaks, lowering winter heating costs by up to 10 per cent.

For every five per cent of tree cover area added to a community, storm water run-off is reduced by approximately two per cent. In 50 years, one tree can generate $30,000 in oxygen, recycle $35,000 of water, and eliminate pollutants that would otherwise cost $60,000 to remove from the air.

Trees, with their health, economic and environmental benefits, help improve our city.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Toronto’s government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Media contact: Parks, Forestry and Recreation media line, 416-560-8726,


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