Engaging Residents in Street Tree Stewardship: Results of a Tree Watering Outreach Intervention
Christine Moskell, Nina Bassuk, Shorna Allred, and Pat MacRae
Abstract: Street trees provide numerous environmental, community, and health benefits, but municipal urban forestry programs often lack the public resources to adequately maintain trees, particularly in the time immediately following planting. Watering trees in the first three years after planting is critical for tree survival. A quasi-experimental design was used to test whether an outreach intervention impacted residents’ street tree watering behavior, and whether their watering behavior enhanced soil moisture, an important outcome for tree growth. Residents at mailing addresses for trees in the treatment group received educational materials about watering, while the control group received no educational materials. Soil moisture data was collected weekly at every tree throughout the growing season (May–September 2012) and used as a proxy for residents’ watering behavior. Results indicate that the postcards had a positive impact on residents’ watering behavior, but that the impact diminished over time. While the impact of the postcards on soil moisture was not statistically significant, the evaluation of the outreach intervention has practical significance for future educational efforts to engage residents in street tree watering.
Keywords: Community Engagement; Soil Moisture; Stewardship; Urban Trees