How to adopt a tree

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We reported last week on the scheme to increase bee-friendly plants around Snaresbrook. Here, guerrilla gardener Marian Temple offers some advice on how to get involved by adopting a tree near you.

If you’re tempted to adopt the tree surround outside your house (or anywhere else) to plant it up with wild flowers or anything else, remember, the plants have to be fairly tough for this, this is the process you will need to follow.

Phone the council department for street trees 8708 5325. Register the tree surround (the official name is “tree pit”). Give the address and say that you want to maintain it. It will be put on the register of resident maintained tree pits and will not be sprayed with weed killer. This actually works quite well. But you must do this before April this year because of the council spray regime which is as follows.

The streets are sprayed 4 times a year

1. Feb/March . This is with a residual herbicide. It prevents seed germination in tree pits and lasts 6 months.
2. April/June These later three sprays are all glyphosphate sprays and will kill on contact with leaves.
3. July/August
4. Sept/Nov.

Wanstead is at the end of the spraying time table and this year they will be later than usual, probably not doing the first spray until early April.

If you decide to adopt and plant a tree surround, remember the plants have got to be tough. They will get full sun, full wind and maybe no rain for long periods. They will also get people’s feet and toddler’s bike and buggy wheels over them. Have a look at the tree surround for tell tale wheel and feet marks. That will let you know which are the vulnerable patches. Wild flowers are tough enough for this job.

There is a campaign to plant tree pits in Snaresbrook ward with wild flowers this year. (Meeting at the library on 25 April from 6.15pm onwards – get your wild flower seed there). Also some ornamental grasses, the blue/ green festuca glauca is particularly suitable for this. Lots of other suitable stuff. Stop me and ask me if you see me working in the Corner House garden or on the High Street flower beds and I’ll be happy to give suggestions. All power to your tree pit planting elbows!

Let us know if you do adopt a tree – we’ll celebrate the best efforts here.

7 Comments on "How to adopt a tree"


  1. Brilliant! This is exactly what we did last year on Oak Hall Road in Wanstead – we have six new tree pits and we surreptitiously planted native wildflower seeds in each one – and the result was beautiful! Here’s a link to my blog where I wrote all about it and with photos! http://mummydrinkstea.com/2013/07/13/we-are-flowering/
    We have already registered our trees again with the council using the number above. It must be added that the lady at the council couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. Can’t wait for this year’s display.


    1. Thanks Ann for clarifying and for getting the scheme going in the first place!


  2. But why are they spraying chemicals there anyway?

    Completely needless. Just let things grow. The bees would thank you.


  3. I would like to propose a variation on this theme – also supporting the bee population, but showing Wanstead’s support for centenary of the start of WW1 – by sowing poppy seeds around the bases of trees. It would look amazing over the summer, and give such a strong message, if Wanstead was awash with bright red poppies.


  4. So do you know of any good poppy seed providers around this area?
    or can this provided free too?

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