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Johan Ditmar and his daughter with tree he sponsored with trees for streets

A tree that is right up your street

“It just makes a huge difference. You get the same road with trees and without trees and, everything being equal, the road with trees just looks 10 times more attractive.”

So said Northfield resident Johan Ditmar. He was unhappy with the lack of trees on the street where he lives, so he got in touch with a scheme that allows residents to request and sponsor trees to be planted in their street.

“On our road, certainly my side of the road, there was a distinct lack of trees,” said Johan.

He had heard about the Trees for Streets charity operating in other parts of London and, when it expanded into the borough of Ealing, he was eager to take part.

Under the scheme, residents can sponsor a new tree to be planted in their road. They can help choose which type of tree is planted and its location. The charity then works closely with the council on whether the location is appropriate for a new tree.

Johan originally asked to sponsor three new trees to be planted on his side of the road. Two were approved for sponsoring through the Trees for Streets charity, and two additional trees were also planted by the council in other locations on his street.

Overcoming concerns

Most of his neighbours supported the arrival of the new trees but a few had concerns that they might affect the foundations of their homes in years to come.

Johan and the experts at Trees for Streets were able to tell them: “The kind of trees that are planted don’t grow beyond 6 to 8 metres and their roots will definitely not damage the foundations of your house.”

Others were worried that the wrong type of trees, ones that produce sap, would damage any cars parked under them. But the council tree experts, known as arborists, also consider that and avoid planting trees that give off sap.

Johan said of the new trees: “There’s a cherry tree, a crab apple, a field maple and a cherry plum tree. So nice trees, really.”

What can you do?

Trees for Streets offers two types of schemes for sponsoring street trees. A resident can opt to pay £175 for a new tree to be planted in their road if they agree to water it themselves. Or they can pay £275, which includes keeping it watered.

Johan went for the second option. And he is so happy with the new arrivals he has now ordered another tree.

“I think the scheme is well run and it’s easy to do,” said Johan. “For some people, the cost might sound like a lot. I don’t know what the actual cost of purchasing a tree, having it planted and then subsequently watering it would be, but I imagine that’s a lot more than £275.”

For every tree sponsored in the borough, an extra tree will be sponsored by the Mayor of London and planted on streets with fewer trees, school streets and in children’s playgrounds where shade is needed.

Johan keeps bees on an allotment close to his home and, as well as just loving trees for their own sake, he knows how important they are for our environment. He said: “Trees are good for pollinators like honeybees and indeed all four trees that arrived are very good for them.”

50,000 new trees

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, deputy leader of Ealing Council and cabinet member for climate action, said: “The Trees for Streets programme sits alongside and complements the council’s ambitious tree planting programme. It’s great to hear that Johan is enjoying the new trees on his street.

“Overall, we’re making good progress on our promise to plant 50,000 new trees by 2026, which includes new street trees as well as trees in our parks and green spaces.”

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