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Here’s some happier news on the tree front: the Newton Tree Conservancy is inviting applications from groups of neighbors wanting street trees and willing to help us plant them, water weekly for two years, and keep them weed-free. You can read my tree buddy Beth Wilkinson’s letter in this week’s (9/5/12) Tab – I’d link to it but it’s not on the Tab website yet. Or get all the details on the Newton Tree Conservancy website. (Scroll down below Tree Stewards.)

Unfortunately this is not for individuals; we’re looking for groups of five or more houses with space for eight or more trees, fairly close together. A good guideline would be, can you see from one spot to another? We can’t logistically plant singleton trees all over the place, and by being a community endeavor, with people helping plant each other’s trees, and available to back each other up on watering if someone’s on vacation, more people have an interest in helping the trees survive. We’ve had people who don’t need trees themselves do the organizing for their street, or take care of the watering for an elderly neighbor.

Some people ask, why plant new trees if we can’t take care of the trees we have? Well, we’re going to be losing 500-600 street trees a year for the forseeable future (out of about 26,000) and if no one planted anything until we were taking perfect care of the big trees, that’s a recipe for increasingly bare streets. If we want mature trees in 40 years, and a more even age distribution in the future (not everything aging, then everything new) we need to keep planting small trees now.

The photos above are Barbara Road in West Newton, which had lost many trees before we planted there in 2010, and has lost more since, including the large Norway maple in the middle, and more on the other side of the street. And the ones that are left aren’t looking too good. It would be even more bare without its new trees. The tree in the foreground is disease-resistant American elm. Admittedly this is one of the faster growing species, but it shows how quickly a young tree can start to “look like a real tree.”