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Torontonians get a chance to adopt a street tree with new program

When it comes to urban trees along city streets, “small actions can go a long way."

These trees along the Danforth are among the ones that could use a little extra attention to make sure they thrive.

Liz Beddall/Metro

These trees along the Danforth are among the ones that could use a little extra attention to make sure they thrive.

A project on the Danforth could mean a little extra TLC for the estimated 600,000 trees lining city streets.

The city has partnered with LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) for a program that will allow people to adopt and care for trees.

To start, 142 recently planted trees on Danforth between Woodbine and Victoria Park are being matched with people willing to do everything from water them to make sure the mulch around them is intact.

The goal is to use the program as a model for other parts of the city if it’s successful.

“It’s like having added eyes on the tree,” said Erin McDonald, LEAF volunteer and stewardship coordinator.

Organizers are planning a series of workshops this month designed to generate interest and give newbies a running start with the basics tree care.

The first three to five years are the most crucial ones in a tree’s life and having people dedicated to their care “really increases the level of survival,” McDonald said. “Street trees have the toughest conditions to grow in. They are trees that need our care the most.”

When it comes to trees along city streets “small actions can go a long way,” said Carol Walker, manager of urban forestry policy and planning.

If you adopt a tree, these are some of the thing that will be expected from you:

  • Water it: Trees need at least 30 litres of water twice a week if it hasn’t rained.
  • Protect the trunk: That means keeping bikes, garbage bins and other objects away to prevent damage to bark.
  • Hold the salt: Minimizing the build up of road salt near the tree bed during the winter months is critical. Too much salt makes it hard for tree roots to suck in water.
  • Leave some space: Keeping mulch 10 centimetres away from the base of the trunk will help prevent bark rot.

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