While conducting our urban forest inventories we noted that often urban trees occurred not because they were planted and cared for but rather because an area was ignored long enough for a tree to become established. The most striking evidence of this were the trees (some of considerable size) that we encountered growing into and through old fences and posts. Unfortunately, the trees established in these unlikely places were more likely to be non-native, ‘weedy’ species, such as Tree of Heaven, Norway maples, Manitoba maples and locusts. We snapped these photos of trees engulfing a fence along a property boundary. Trees along fence lines should be cut before they reach this size.
With all of the rain that we’ve had lately, it’s good to know that trees improve the quality of our water.
In the city, most of the ground is covered in hard surfaces like buildings, concrete, asphalt, etc. Water cannot penetrate these surfaces easily, so it flows over them until it reaches storm sewers and drainage pipes. As water runs over these surfaces, it erodes what little soil is exposed, and picks up dirt and pollutants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, metals and pesticides. These pollutants are carried with the storm water and eventually make their way into our rivers and water bodies, causing sedimentation and a reduction in water quality.
Trees help to alleviate the amount of runoff by intercepting rain with their canopies. The water can be re-evaporated, or it can run down the trunk and infiltrate the soil through the tree’s roots. The infiltration of water into the soil is also improved by leaf litter on the ground. As a result, more groundwater is available for other urban vegetation, and less runoff flows into our storm sewers. Even if the water does fall onto hard surfaces, the tree canopy slows it down and reduces its force. This lessens soil erosion and reduces the amount of pollutants that are picked up by the water. It also means fewer flooded streets and basements.
Trees also improve water quality by absorbing minerals and pollutants from the water that can be ecologically harmful. So the trees in the city aren’t just helping keep the urban area clean and beautiful. They can have far-reaching positive consequences for the entire watershed!
Water is arguably the world’s most precious resource. We use it for drinking, bathing, recreation, industry and tons of other daily activities. So let’s keep the urban forest healthy to ensure that our water is squeaky clean!
Information obtained from:
Trees provide numerous benefits including improved air quality, energy conservation and better water quality. But if you’re a nature enthusiast, you probably appreciate the wildlife that trees bring into urban areas. Trees provide habitat for all sorts of plants, animals, and even fungi. So when you plant a tree, you’re really planting a mini ecosystem!
Though a little more difficult to see, pollinating insects like bees and butterflies form yet another component of the urban ecosystem, and they rely heavily on our urban trees for habitat and food. Our urban gardens provide critical habitat for pollinators and many residents are helping pollinators by planting native species in their yards. This includes trees like our native maples and willows that flower in the early spring before many of our wildflowers are flowering. Pollinators need flowering plants throughout the spring, summer and fall and early spring flowering trees are a key food source that we need to add to our gardens where possible.
Of course, the healthier our urban trees are, the healthier the entire ecosystem will be. It follows that a greater diversity of species and ages will also lead to a greater diversity of wildlife in our urban forest. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that we take care of our trees. So next time you’re strolling through the city, look up and remember that trees count for our pollinators!
We love this story.
This is Mariam, she alongside a small but mighty group of residents have been gardening around their building in downtown Hamilton. Gardening space is limited so Mariam carved out some space underneath this large pine tree.
This photo was taken mid March so the garden part is harder to see.
But luckily, fellow resident, John diligently took some summer photos including this one that showcases Mariam’s garden.
Trees and vegetable gardening together IS possible!
Trees Please would like to thank Mariam and John for their inspiring work!
Liz submitted this sweet little story about conifers:
On the top of one of the cupboards in a Hamilton kitchen there are some conifer branches from a garden not too far from Luther Lake ( a proud member of the blue belt on county road 16 south of # 89) . The conifers trees have to be trimmed each fall to allow winter access and avoid ice damage and the branches add colour and fragrance in their second home. In the spring they’ll go to the compost bin.
Thanks Liz for sending us this story!
We recently hosted a Trees from Seed workshop. Here are some stories from people who want to learn to grow trees from seed. Their efforts will help to increase Hamilton’s tree canopy!
Here are some quotes from the event:
We’re growing a redbud. Our backyard already has a sweet cherry, nectarine, and a few native shrubs. So it’s getting pretty full. That’s why we’re adding a small tree.
Linda and Dennis say:
“We love black cherry. Whatever the wind blows down on our property, we use to make cupboards and for odd jobs. So these seeds would be good to replace some of that. Good to cut out invasives and replace them with something native.”
“I’ll grow a redbud and black cherry for the Binbrook Conservation Area. I’m here on behalf of the Glanbrook Conservation Committee. One of the cool things we do there is take unused Christmas trees from wholesalers, feed them to goats for de-needling, then put the rest in the lake to help fish spawning.”
We are looking forward to mapping these future trees and following their stories over the course of 2017.
Special thanks to Ben N for attending the workshop and collecting these quotes. Much appreciated!
One of our pilots this year is grow some trees from seeds.
One the native trees we selected is the great Eastern White Pine.
Nothing yet but it’s only been 5 days since we planted them.
We also have Black Maples, Redbuds and Black Cherry seeds. Our goals include:
- seeing if we could raise some native trees from seeds
- connect with interested Hamiltonians to plant the treelings on their properties and to get more trees into our neighbourhoods.
We’ll keep you posted with our pilot.