Take climate action by watering your street trees, campaign asks

Credit: The Arboricultural Association

The Arboricultural Association has joined forces with the Woodland Trust and local authority tree officer associations to rally the UK public to water their new street trees using recycled rainwater or grey water, such as washing up water.

Since setting up the annual watering campaign in 2020, the Arboricultural Association has brought on board an ever-expanding list of groups to take up the challenge.

John Parker, chief executive of the Arboricultural Association commented: “Planting a tree is just the start of the story. The health and survival of new urban trees is threatened by increasingly dry weather.

“It is recommended that newly planted trees are given 50 litres of water per week during the summer months, for the first three years. You can help ensure healthy trees for the future over the summer months by watering trees near you.”

According to the Met Office, 2022 was the warmest on record and the UK’s total rainfall persistently below average for the year creating challenging conditions for newly planted and younger trees to thrive.

Catherine Nuttgens, head of the Woodland Trust’s urban tree programme, explained: “Trees are crucial to our well-being by cooling our towns and cities and improving air quality so we need to not only plant more but look after those we already have.

“While in rural settings newly planted saplings and woods can take care of themselves and adapt, the challenging conditions presented by living in the built environment means trees in our streets and urban areas need a bit more TLC.

“It’s a fun job to do with the kids or make it a post tea time routine to water the trees . It can rally community spirit too if estates or streets club together.”

The Government has committed to planting millions of trees to help meet climate and nature targets, increasing tree cover in England from 14.5% to 16.5% by 2050.

Here are some of the programme’s top watering tips:

  • Requirements vary depending on a number of factors such as species and location, but a general rule is that new urban trees should receive at least 50 litres of water per week in May, June, July and August.
  • Watering should ideally be carried out in the early morning or evening.
  • Where possible, water should be sustainably sourced. Harvested rainwater is ideal, but bath water, or water which has been used for the washing up, is also suitable.
  • You can find out more and order your own tree watering tags to encourage your community to get involved here