What does it take to care for urban trees that help with stormwater retention, erosion control, pollution reduction, and community greening/engagement?

SCA’s Calumet Tree Conservation Corps knows! Based in Northwest Indiana, this crew plants and cares for thousands of trees throughout the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet River watersheds each year–and they love the adventure!

Here is a day in the life of the Calumet Tree Conservation Corps:

First, crew members work with site partners to gain access or permits for fire hydrant use in order to fill the watering tanks for tree watering efforts.

Crews retain data of how much water (in gallons) is collected in each city (and in some cases a hydrant meter is also attached to record this data) in order to report out at the end of the season. 

Then, for this particular program, crew members use two 5-gallon buckets of water per newly planted tree each week during the spring and fall seasons. 

Each newly planted tree receives a minimum of 10 gallons of water per week in the spring and fall for a minimum of 3 years after planting, to ensure best establishment and survival.

Trees are watered by hand with buckets as it is less invasive than a pressurized water tank and sprayer, and it allows for a more steady intake of water at the base of the tree. It is time consuming but often allows for the best results!

Revisiting trees after plantings to water is key; however, other maintenance is needed as well. A ring of mulch at the tree base allows for water to slowly soak and percolate down to the tree roots.

Often grass and weeds will overgrow on top of old mulch, so crew members work to remove these patches…

…Then members re-mulch the trees so that the water is again redirected towards the tree’s roots.

A ring of mulch also allows for tree safety as it provides a buffer around the newly planted tree so that lawn movers and string trimmers do not get too close to the tree trunk and are less likely to cause damage to the establishing tree roots. 

Finally, the crew poses next to a well-established tree that was planted just a few years ago. It has been watered, weeded, and mulched–and they are ready to move on to the next tree! 

With support from partners including National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chi Cal Rivers Fund, BP America, and others, SCA crews continue to create change in their communities across the country.

You can help ensure critical tree planting and community conservation continues by donating today. Through December 31, your gift will have TRIPLE the impact.

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