Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why L.A. Sidewalks Are in Disrepair -- Part 2

In an earlier blog post I wrote about the awful state of disrepair many of the sidewalks in Los Angeles are in and that the reason they are ripped up is because the city planted the wrong types of trees.

While the city at one time did plant the wrong type of trees that tore up the concrete with their large shallow roots, I stand corrected about the continuing practice of planting the wrong kinds of trees.

The good news, according to Farm Feliz founder Thomas O'Grady, who is very active in local sustainability issues, is that the city is now planting the correct types of trees on city sidewalks. But planting the right kind of tree is just the first step according to O'Grady.

"The key is to water the new tree deeply and slowly for about an hour, soak the whole thing every month so it incentivises the tree to grow its roots down," said O'Grady. "The worst thing you can do is water it every week or every few days. The tree senses the water is up high and the roots come up to grab the water." And of course when the roots rise to drink the water they tear up the sidewalks. Funny how nature works sometimes.

O'Grady also pointed out that it is illegal to water trees, plants and grass in L.A. on any day but Thursday and Saturday and that it is illegal for the water to flow off the grass and onto the concrete. Tell that to the apartment owners and business owners in my neighborhood -- the Miracle Mile! I have been sprayed many times from errant sprinklers just for simply walking on the sidewalk.

Overall O'Grady believes that the benefits of more trees far outweighs any problems with the sidewalks. He explained to me that street trees provide shade, the leaves filter and clean rain water, trees provide privacy for people and animals and raise property values. But he did note that there is one type of imported tree that has absolutely no benefits to the environment in Southern California whatsoever.

"Palm trees are useless," said O'Grady.

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