Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who's minding the trees?

From the NY Times: callery pears, honey locusts and white pines grow in all five boroughs — on sidewalks, along medians and in parks — so, too, have New Yorkers’ grumblings.

Residents worry that the saplings will eventually lead to buckling sidewalks, dangling limbs, excessive shade and leaf litter, among other things. Three of the top five categories of parks-related calls to 311, the city’s help line, involved complaints about trees. One Queens homeowner begged the city not to plant a tree in front of her house by arguing that her dog would get confused by the introduction of a new smell; she got a tree anyway.

Even elected officials who profess a love of trees say they fear that the city may not be putting the necessary resources into caring for the trees once they are planted. They cite instances of premature deaths, as well as a pruning backlog, made worse by recent budget cuts. The regular pruning cycle of street trees is now once every 15 years to 20 years, down from once every 7 years.

“I’m all about trees — trust me,” said Jimmy Van Bramer, a city councilman who represents western Queens. “But we’re not going to get what we want unless we commit to the ongoing maintenance of these trees as they grow older. These are tough economic times, but more trees means more maintenance and pruning. It’s got to mean that.”

Of course, many residents have embraced a leafier streetscape. And most of the trees planted under the Million Trees program, which began in 2007, are too small to have caused problems — their roots and boughs have not yet reached the tentacle stage.

But at least some of the newly planted trees have met untimely deaths. Efforts to plant trees along a narrow median on 11th Street in the Long Island City section of Mr. Van Bramer’s district, for example, have failed.

Tom Paino, an architect whose house overlooks the median, said that landscapers planted the trees too late in the spring and that the root balls were not sufficiently submerged. Recently, workers chopped down the dead trees, leaving behind stumps. “As soon as they put them in, I thought, ‘They’re not going to make it,’ ” he said. “It’s a very frustrating experience.”


Anonymous said...

I remember back in the day if a tree was in front of your house,you took care of it.I grew up on the flatbush/crown heights border.Our house faced south.It was great having that huge linden in front!

Anonymous said...

Having tree lined streets is nice. BUT..they recently planted a tree on the Austin Street side of the Shalimar Diner in Rego Park. The Diner isn't going to take care of the litter, high weeds and dog poop that surrounds it & surely the city won't. What was Bloomberg thinking??? Maybe he can send his gardener over!

Anonymous said...

One Queens homeowner begged the city not to plant a tree in front of her house by arguing that her dog would get confused by the introduction of a new smell; she got a tree anyway.

What??? That has got to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.

Anonymous said...

New trees are great and I would love to see the city plant even more, but they have to maintain them. Way too many trees they plant end up dying months after being planted, and way too many older trees are not being pruned and are half dead.

Anonymous said...

Look at all of the dead trees along Woodhaven and Queens Blvds. Dozens planted over the last 3 years are dead or completely missing!!
Of the 500k tree planted, half are probably dead or dying already. They need a maintenance plan. In a harsh and careless city such as ours, these trees don't stand a chance!