Street trees deserve everyone’s care

May 2, 2008
By

As spring finally arrives in our fair city, I would like to remind the people of Jamaica Plain about a very important part of our community that we all need to take care of. With Mayor Thomas Menino’s plan to green the city by planting large numbers of new trees, it is easy to forget the trees that already grace our communities. They face many challenges each day, yet somehow manage to survive—providing shade, cleaner air and beauty to the neighborhood. Our ancestors knew the value of trees. They left a once barren Boston Common shady and welcoming; created Public Gardens of national renown; and invested in the Emerald Necklace. They bring joy and pleasure even today—all possible because of the trees that were once planted.

I am concerned about the less-recognized trees in JP. The trees planted on our sidewalks take a heap of abuse. Their limbs and bark get torn off by thoughtless children and adults. They sometimes lack water and nutrients. They get exposed to road salt and other pollutants. Dogs that walk past mark them, creating acidic soil that weakens the trees. Bicycle locks, wires, lights and ropes are sometimes left wrapped around the trees to slowly strangle them. Thousands of footsteps on the soil at their bases compact it to the point that what little water does reach them cannot soak in, and the roots are suffocated. Most disturbing, some trees are simply cut down by thoughtless people. In short, street trees are tough survivors that deserve better treatment than they usually get.

These trees are ours in common, and, as such, are our responsibility. The City of Boston web site www.cityofboston.gov/park/streettrees has more information about this topic and helpful tips for caring for street trees. Anyone with concerns can call the city at 635-PARK.

I hope everyone remembers to remove things like lights and ropes from trees. I also hope everyone cares for the trees by keeping their dogs away from them, aerating, adding mulch and watering them during the summer. Most of all, I want everyone to enjoy the trees!

Marian Miller
Jamaica Plain