Saturday, June 19, 2010

Speaking For The Trees -A Tour Around The Block

I've been wondering what to do with my tree pits lately. My wife and I have held them off from becoming arm pits, but as the days go by, more dog poo piles on. We need some nice, low iron fencing on three sides. Then I'd like to plant some temporary things, perennials maybe.

Down the cross street, someone has put up these little snow-fences. Nothin' to look at, but works.

Around the block on Church Ave, there's this pit. We got rubber-coated shelving supported by metal tubing. The garbage is still collecting though.

This planted by someone who finds growing vegetables a necessity. That's alotta tumaduz! Good luck!

Two doors down, someone has poured asphalt mix into the tree pit.

Another door down, the new tree has garbage bags as its neighbor. Its really tough for these trees on the commercial street. Many already look beat up, broken branches and scraped bark.

Around the corner, about midway down my other cross street, I find this birch tree. An unusual choice, and I am doubtful it was selected by the city, although maybe. I rarely see birches on city streets -it's such harsh conditions after all. Yet I have seen a successful birch on River St., in Williamsburg, in a rather protected location with little traffic. Another successful one is in Red Hook, on Beard St., I believe. Love birch trees.

This one has been labeled 'DURAHEAT'. Let's hope so. Not many gardeners on this block.

This stretch of my neighborhood has seen more than its share of new street trees since the Brooklyn Tornado (photos). And will probably see more because here, they keep on dying.

Its easy to see why. They are being planted too close to a mature stand of maples with a canopy too dense to allow in any light or water, and with roots sucking the life out of the already poor soil. The small tree pits aren't helping much either. Did I mention all the dog walkers in the adjacent building?

The crowns of the last three trees planted before one turns onto my block are dead, suckers sprouting from the rootstock of some. Does anyone actually look at the conditions before planting?

I've been wondering about who is responsible for making the million individual street tree choices of the Million Trees program. I don't mean organizationally, but who are the individuals responsible and how do they make their determinations? Are they urban foresters walking (probably driving) along the streets in midsummer? I really don't like seeing these dead trees, it's such a shame. Maybe this building is cursed? The new tree planted two years ago on its north side, although lacking any competition from other trees, has died as well.


  1. I've lived in Brooklyn before, and never have I seen someone plant tomatos in a tree pit. That's a new one!! Hope people will respect it!

  2. I have a feeling the whole street tree thing is wrapped up in a lot of bureaucracy. The initial impulse is good, but what's the point of planting something that's doomed? I guess it takes too much time and thought to do it right. Now I'm depressed.

  3. Hi Frank,

    The foam insulation in our attic is called closed cell polyurethane spray foam. You need at least a minimum of 2 inches for a vapor barrier.

    This is the company we used, they are based in Brooklyn and were great. If you have any questions about the installation, I'd be happy to answer any.

  4. Thanks Meems. I won't be doing any insulating soon, still a renter, but I thought it was possibly one of those soy-based spray foams.

    Ellen, sorry to bring you down. On the other hand there are many trees surviving the harsh street life, and many people who want to take care of them -like yourself:)


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