Why plant trees when there are water restrictions?

By planting trees that shade and cool hardscape surfaces (streets, sidewalks, parking lots, buildings, patios, asphalt playgrounds at schools), we reduce the temperature of cities, reduce our input to global warming and reduce energy use for air conditioning.

Cars emit pollutants (volatile organic compounds - VOCs) that evaporate from the gas tank even when they are parked and heating up in the sun. By planting trees that shade streets and parking lots, we can slow down the rate of VOC evaporation thus reducing those pollutants.

Trees are a long-term investment and add real value in dollars and cents to a community. In fact the larger the tree, the greater the benefits (cleaner air, more shade, lower costs for storm water controls, longer time between resurfacing streets). Looking at the costs and benefits, we come out ahead when we plant trees.

Drought tolerant and native landscapes – including trees – require less water than lawns or turf. Turf needs water many days per week as opposed to none to four times a month for a tree. Turf also doesn't provide shade as trees do. For all the water that turf uses, most people reap little benefit from their green square of green in front of their house or in the parkway. Trees that shade the other parts of the garden will also reduce water use there.

After the initial water investment, drought tolerant trees (especially natives) can often get by on natural amounts of rain water. They may occasionally need a deep soaking one to four times over the dry part of the year depending on the species.

Click here for current information on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) watering ordinance.