Sunday, November 27, 2011

Roadside tree planting


The residents of New Beach Road felt the need to plant more trees at the eastern end of the road, that leads on to the beach front. The western parts of the road are tree-lined and shady, while the eastern end has looked bare.
So, there was discussion and dialogue as to how to go about this and what follows is our experience in planting trees on the road, for the benefit of anyone else looking to do so.
We decided to do this just before the rains, rather than in the summer, so that the saplings would get a head start with good water and cool weather. Little did we realise that our chosen date would work to a "T" - the monsoons broke over Chennai, the morning after we had done our tree planting!

Saplings were sourced from Nizhal.  We got five punnai and five pooarasam saplings - both of which are expected to do well in coastal areas, with sandy soil, harsh sunny climes, and they are both native species as well. Oct 23rd, a Sunday was agreed upon as several of teh residents were available, post Deepavali.

Then to figure out costs - we need sand and red earth/manure, plus labour to dig pits 2ft by 2ft, and 2 ft deep too.  One of the residents got in touch with Malathi Nursery in the neighbourhood, and we worked out costs as Rs 250 per tree planting, with sand/manure and labour.

Next question - how do we share these costs?  We decided that each tree would be "sponsored" by a child of the road, who would then be responsible for keeping an eye on it, watering it in the dry season, and reporting if the sapling was not doing well.  Overnight, we had ten "sponsors" and the money question was answered!

We then spoke to the Additional Engineer, Chennai Corporation Thiruvanmyur, informed him, then got the permission of the AC, Adyar division, who promised us tree guards too.  I was sceptical that the tree guards would arrive in time, but lo and behold, come 22nd Oct evening, and a fishcart trundled up to our flat and disgorged the tree guards!
Sunday morning dawned and we gathered at 8am, deciding on the spots where we wanted to plant.

Soon, the gardener and the sand and manure showed up too, and he began pitting,  digging the pits for our saplings.  The young men of our road also added their muscle power.  The nursery had packed ten bags of manure and ten bags of red earth, so we just had to empty one packet of each into each pit.
The kids enjoyed planting their saplings, placing them in the middle of the pit, and filling up the space around with manure and sand, making sure it was firm and well-packed.
Tree guards
Then, it was time for the tree guards.  The tree guards that we were supplied with had these long, spindly legs, which had to be buried in the pit.
This was done diligently, and the kids wrote their names on the little blank bits of metal that you see.  They are the designated caregivers for each sapling now.
I underestimated the need for the tree guard.  A couple of days later while walking to the beach, we were dismayed to see that one tree guard had disappeared, and the punnai which it had protected stood bare, exposed and covered with plastic refuse.

Then, just ten days ago, we noticed that the garbage truck had obviously banged into another one, which was then all bent out of shape.
The saplings were all watered well, as we hauled water in some empty drinking water dispensers to the saplings.  The plan is that during the dry season, we will just carry water in a 2-litre bottle, and each family will take care of the one sapling in their name.

One of the pooarasam saplings - all done!
It has been raining heavily ever since, and we hope this has given a good start to these saplings. We also uncovered other pooarasam saplings among the weeds, obviously from some previous planting efforts.  Lets hope these saplings grow, along with our kids, into lovely tall, shady trees!


  1. I'm really happy to read this. Had no idea that the corporation could be so helpful. I walk along the new beach road very often, so I'm really eager to see the results of the tree planting.

  2. what a wonderful idea, to have a kid 'sponsor' a tree! i hope i get to drive by new beach road sometime soon and see them :)
    btw the festival of trees has taken on a new avatar - - i'll submit your post to it, will make for great reading in the tree blogging world!


  4. Why thanks Arati, i did not know about this site, and it has a delightful set of posts!

  5. I want to copnduct a drive to plant IXOR along the tambaram to medavakkam main road...Can i get any help...How to start...Sponsors ??

    1. Please do look at whether you would like to plant trees instead of ixora? Also, pl ensure that there are sufficient caregivers once the saplings are planted.

      You would need to look to the local community to help get over the small finances you need, as I have mentioned above.

      The Nizhal website - is a good resource.

  6. I would like some help here.. i too am planting trees in my locality.. Any one knows who sponsors tree guards?? Please reply..

  7. Hi. good work :-) I myself like to plant few trees in my area. I would like to know whom I should contact in corporation to get assistance and where to get tree guards/their cost, etc.,?

    1. You should contact the AE for your area. As mentioned above, they may provide tree guards free of cost, but you would need to get some community involvement for looking after the saplings.

  8. somaskanthan: are you guys still doing this...want to knw pls reply

    1. This is one effort, Nizhal continuously helps people with greening efforts. Get in touch with Nizhal.

  9. whom to get permit for growing street corner trees in chennai

  10. Hello, I am part of a tree planting drive in Teynampet.I would like to get in touch with whoever started this project on e-mail.It will be great to ask you about how the whole project was structured.