Great story by Gregory Dicum over at the San Francisco Chronicle about the city’s street trees. It ain’t easy keeping an urban forest alive, because not every tree can "thrive on a diet of candy-bar wrappers and pit-bull poop," as Dicum puts it.
It’s a tall order for a tree: We’re gonna stick you in this little hole in the concrete, drop some Osmocote down there, strap you to a couple of burly stakes, plant some stupid little pansies around you, and then you’re on your own. Good luck finding the water, microbes, humus, and worms you need down there under the streets. Good luck fighting off pollution, vandalism, and inclement weather. And by the way, please don’t send your roots on a fishing expedition into our aging sewer and water system, and don’t push them up through the seams in the sidewalk in search of air. And keep your branches out of the power lines. And don’t drop your flowers, pollen, or fruit on parked cars. And hey–don’t block the street signs or oncoming traffic. Oh, and when the homeowner or business owner finds out that they’re responsible, in most cities, for the sidewalk, the trees planted in it, and any damage to underground pipes, pavement, etc? Look out for the axe.
Are we asking too much of our trees? Can’t a sidewalk just be a sidewalk? Is it too old-fashioned to suggest that trees simply be planted in the ground?
Discuss among yourselves.