New trees in Richardson, Dallas and Grand Prairie suffer in heat

By Ian McCann

Richardson, TX (July 6, 2010)- Rows of trees lining a trail near the Galatyn Park rail station in Richardson were the first planted this spring in an effort to bring more green to the city. Pond cypresses along a Richardson trail have turned a distinctive rust brown color. Under the heat of the Texas sun, and with a drier-than-normal spring, they are now a coppery brown.

Richardson isn’t the only city with young trees hurting from the elements and the normal stresses of being transplanted. The contractor at the recently opened White Rock Lake spillway in Dallas may have to replace some trees, and Grand Prairie and Sachse have also seen trees wither under Texas weather.

Some deaths are to be expected – trees are living things, after all – after transplanting, said arborist Amy Langbein of Dallas Tree Surgeons. In Grand Prairie, four of 700 new trees planted at the recently opened Central Park and about 10 of 150 transplanted trees have died. About a dozen trees at Sachse’s municipal complex, now under construction, are also quite brown. But Langbein said the widespread, obvious stress that the Galatyn trees are exhibiting is out of the norm.

Still, not all is lost in Richardson. Langbein said mulch should be adjusted to ensure proper drainage. And additional watering, especially when typical July and August heat comes, could save most of the damaged trees, which she called bald cypress and the city calls pond cypress. Adjacent cedar elms, planted at the same time, are doing fine.

“They need some feeding,” Langbein said. “The majority of them can be saved.” Some are showing signs of life. There are new bits of green foliage scattered amongst the brown. And the Texas Trees Foundation, which is maintaining the Richardson trees for the first year, has increased its watering to twice a week.

David Morgan, a Richardson assistant city manager, and Amir Omar, the City Council member who spearheaded the Tree the Town program, said that other trees that had shown signs of stress have since sprung back. “One hundred percent of the Campbell [Road median] trees went brown,” Omar said. “Now they’re all green. All but one of them have some green popping out on the Galatyn trees.”

Tree the Town in Richardson launched in April, and since then about 400 trees have been planted at five sites. Large plantings are to be funded through private donations, the source of which so far has been corporate funding. The tree damage hasn’t been costly for the other cities, either. Grand Prairie’s contractor will replace the four new trees that died, a city spokeswoman said. Sachse’s trees were a construction company’s response to trees it destroyed in another part of town, and city officials believe they have a warranty for any that die.

The ultimate goal for Richardson’s program is 50,000 trees, on both public and private property. Omar keeps a close watch on his pet project. He said he runs by Tree the Town plantings a few times a week and is well aware that some are having a tough time surviving. He put a positive spin on the situation, calling it an educational opportunity. “People have learned that stressed trees can come back,” Omar said. “As long as they have some patience, it’ll be OK.”

Related Resources:
The Dallas Morning News- New trees in Richardson, Dallas and Grand Prairie suffer in heat
Texas Trees Foundation