Some street trees in Langley are shedding their leaves following the extreme heat. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Some street trees in Langley are shedding their leaves following the extreme heat. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Heat drives Langley street trees to shed leaves

Langley City encourages people to ‘adopt’ trees and keep watering bags filled

Some trees along Langley’s sidewalks and roads are losing their leaves in the wake of the massive heat wave that saw temperatures spike to over 40 degrees Celsius on the last weekend of June.

Street trees in both Langley City and Township – trees that are planted and maintained by the municipalities – have been affected.

“The City has noticed that several street trees have been affected, specifically the newly established trees and trees that do not have a large soil volume,” said City spokesperson Samantha Paulson.

Younger and smaller trees are often protected from long dry spells by having “gator bags” attached. These are the green water bags that slowly supply water to the trees.

The City strives to fill the 15-gallon gator bags twice a week, but they are susceptible to heat and drought.

“Although we do not have an official program, residents are encouraged to help by filling the gator bags with water, or adopting (by watering) any local trees,” Paulson said.

The Township has done a site inspection and said most trees in the Willoughby area fared well through the heat wave, with the exception of red maples along 208th Street.

“It is common for this species to drop leaves during extended drought periods as a defensive mechanism to conserve water,” said a Township spokesperson.

Dropping leaves suddenly does not necessarily mean the tree is dying, but that it is going into early dormancy, according to the Township.

Depending on the weather and amount of rainfall, the trees may grow new leaves in a late-season flush.

“Most will survive and rebound the following year,” the Township spokesperson said.

The cost to replace any trees that do die varies by the size and variety.

Paulson said that it costs about $300 to $400 to replace a five- to seven-centimetre wide tree.

According to the Township, a young tree could cost $1,000 to $1,500 to replace, while a mature tree could cost $1,500 to $2,500. Funding is available to replace dying street trees as required.

Langley Township has a plan to increase the urban and rural forest canopy as part of the municipality’s strategy to combat climate change.

READ MORE: Township plans to fight heat by adding trees to Langley

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EnvironmentHeat waveLangley CityLangley Township