Adopt A Thirsty “Orphan Tree” During This Heat & Drought

Print This Post  Email This Post

BTB Reader Rebecca Dare brought this to our attention a few days ago – around Burien, there are numerous “orphan” trees (and plants/bushes) that may be suffering from this extreme heat and drought.

These living things might be growing near unattended buildings, near sidewalks and other places where they may not get the water they need, especially during times of high heat.

So we’re putting out the call to all Readers to “adopt” one of these poor trees and bring them water.

Here’s Rebecca’s email to us:

I noticed a Forest Pansy Redbud (one of my favorite trees) dying near the Thai restaurant (the old IHOP) and started taking bottles of water to try to save it for the last few days. The rhodys around it are already toast so I’m not bothering with them.

I’d like to add that mulch can help hold in the water — just don’t put mulch all the way up to the trunk of a tree.

At this point — this week — I think just water would be a big help! And whenever & however a person could do it. (At this point I’ve just been watering the redbud once a day — approx. 4 gallons or so.

On the day we did the big walk around with Thomas Sieverts, some of us were pretty concerned (Kitty Milne among us) about the plants by the old City Hall. I’ve been meaning to take a look at them, but not sure how best to water — maybe I’ll look into it. At the SuBu raised beds at B/IAS was have access to water.

If you see another plant or tree suffering, it’d be wonderful if you’d adopt it until things get better.

Thanks, Rebecca

UPDATE 8/3/09: Rebecca sent us these pics of herself and Bill Opfermann watering one of these trees:

We did some research, and here’s more information that might help you save one of these plants and keep Burien green:

  • What a tree under “drought stress” looks like:
    • Symptoms of drought injury to trees can be sudden or may take up to two years to be revealed. Drought injury symptoms on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, and yellowing.
    • Deciduous leaves may develop scorch, brown outside edges or browning between veins.
    • Evergreen needles may turn yellow, red or purple. They may also turn brown at the tips of the needles and browning may progress through the needle towards the twig.
    • In continued drought, leaves may be smaller than normal, drop prematurely or remain attached to the tree even though brown.
    • Often times, drought stress may not kill a tree outright, but set it up for more serious secondary insect and disease infestations in following years.
  • Where to water your tree:
  • Deep watering to a depth of 12” inches below the soil surface is recommended.
  • Saturate the soil around the tree within the “dripline” (the outer edges of the tree’s branches) to disperse water down toward the roots.
  • For evergreens, water 3’-5’ beyond the dripline on all sides of the tree.
  • The objective is to water slowly, dispersing the flow of water to get the water deep down to the trees roots. Wateringfor short periods of time only encourages shallow rooting which can lead to more drought damage.
  • Don’t dig holes in the ground in an effort to water deeply. This dries out roots even more. A soil needle/deep root feeder attached to a hose is acceptable to insert into the ground if your soil is not too hard and compact.
  • Overhead spraying of tree leaves is inefficient and should be avoided during drought conditions. Watering at ground level to avoid throwing water in the air is more efficient.
  • Tree Watering: Amount of water needed and methods to use:
  • During the drought, trees must be given top watering priority over your lawn. However, caring for trees requires different watering methods than your lawn.
  • During water restrictions, irrigation systems designed to water turf do not sufficiently water your trees. During the drought, trees should be given a higher priority than lawns. Lawns can be replaced in a matter of months whereas a 20 year old tree will take 20 years to replace.
  • How much water your tree should receive depends upon the tree size. A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Measure trunk diameter at knee height. General formula: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time.
  • Example: When you hand water using a hose at medium pressure, it will take approximately 5 minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. If you have a 4” diameter tree, it should receive 40 gallons of water – multiply by 5 minutes to equal total watering time of 20 minutes.
  • All size trees should be watered April through September according to the guidelines below. All trees should also receive adequate water during the winter months too –For more information on winter watering, see below.
  • Water should be distributed evenly under the dripline of the tree.
  • The best watering method depends upon whether you have a small (1-7” diameter), medium (8-15” diameter) or large sized (16”+ diameter) tree.
  • Small Trees (1-7” diameter) –3 times per month, April through September.
  • Newly planted and smaller trees can get adequate water within the existing watering restrictions by hand watering with a soft spray hose attachment as a separate zone on your designated day.

So, if you decide to help out one of Burien’s (and your planet’s) fellow living things, please take some pics and email them to us along with info on where the tree/planet was located!

Print This Post  Email This Post


17 Responses to “Adopt A Thirsty “Orphan Tree” During This Heat & Drought”
  1. Julie Dow says:

    I applaud the sentiment of watering trees which may need water , it’s a great thing to do! As an adoptive parent I am appalled at the use of “adopt” and “orphan”.

    Being an orphan is truly a scary and desperate place for a child of any age. Adoption is a life long covenant and , a sacred and legal bond between a child and a parent. Sure there are other uses of the word “adopt” (a city adopts an ordiance, a company a manufacturing process) and “orphan” (check that wayward comma), but to suggest a short term commitment to a water A TREE is somehow even on the same level as being an orphan or being adopted into a loving life long family is truly irresponsible, insensitive and uneducated!

    While I guess well meaning on some level, your article and word choice is highly insensitive to the orphans who wait for adoptive parents and the adoptive children and parents today. Feel free to contact me for more reading materials, and I do hope you will reconsider re-posting your story (as trees are a good cause) with a more educated editorial voice.

    • While I respect and appreciate your sentiments, I disagree with your desire to limit the usage of the words “adopt” and “orphan” on this website.

      In fact, I am shocked that anyone would be “appalled” at their use!

      According to, “adopt” means:

      1. to choose or take as one’s own; make one’s own by selection or assent: to adopt a nickname.
      2. to take and rear (the child of other parents) as one’s own child, specifically by a formal legal act.
      3. to take or receive into any kind of new relationship: to adopt a person as a protégé.
      4. to select as a basic or required textbook or series of textbooks in a course.
      5. to vote to accept: The House adopted the report.
      6. to accept or act in accordance with (a plan, principle, etc.).

      Pay special attention to #1 – “to choose or take as one’s own”

      And “orphan” is defined as:

      1. a child who has lost both parents through death, or, less commonly, one parent.
      2. a young animal that has been deserted by or has lost its mother.
      3. a person or thing that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc.: The committee is an orphan of the previous administration.

      #3 is the definition closest to our usage.

      Nowhere in any other dictionary or thesaurus have I ever seen specific definitions of either word pertaining strictly to use with humans only.

      And also, as a professional Writer, I believe that words are tools to be used when and how a Writer wishes to.

      If you’re truly appalled by our use of these words in this fashion, I am truly sorry. However, the story will remain as is.

      Scott Schaefer

    • brooke says:

      i think this blog is awesome because it fosters discussion of topics and can even agree to disagree. I have some good friends who are adopted and have adopted, and I don’t think they would have an issue with the word use. i didn’t poll them; i just have a gut feeling.

      postscript – sorry, but I find it hard not to comment the reactions to Scott’s article….mainly because they are so ridiculous.

      1-“As an adoptive parent I am appalled at the use of “adopt” and “orphan”. – No you shouldn’t be appalled; you should be jumping for joy that someone else is embracing the same concept that you hold so dearly!

      2-“adopt” …a company manufacturing process…but to suggest a short term commitment to a water A TREE” – this makes you sound like a tree-hating-manufacturer or maybe that you work for the National Forest.

      3-“…short term … is truly irresponsible, insensitive and uneducated!” – you know, there are short term adoptions. They are called “fosters.” I’m sure that someone out there would have an issue with your wording that adoptions are only “long term.”

      4-“irresponsible, insensitive and uneducated!” – This is for Scott. You are a journalist. I think some would equate that to a “reporter.” You wrote about a woman helping to water random trees in the community you care about. You were not trying to draw comparisons between adopting kids and watering trees. Keep being awesome!

  2. Julie Dow says:

    OK well since it’s your website you get to choose…. if #6 in the first instance (out of 6) and #3 (out of 3) define your words as “textbook” than that is your choice, but normally those were defined as secondary meanings. Hide behind a dictionary? You’re better than that!
    If you think that choosing to water a tree is to “take as one’s own” – first definition, I would really like to talk to your wife about your wedding vows or ask you to recall the day your kids were born. Watering trees?? Really???
    Your stand, words as tools , and your “true sorrow” for my being offended (how patronizing!) do nothing to be a positive force for orphans – be they trees or actual people.
    And yes, of course as a writer you may “choose”, as you say, to put trees into the same category as children with no parents and no hope. It’s a writers prerogative, and I guess you stand for that. But since I know you are a father, I can’t believe you actually would in this case!
    I do hope you took the time to read the articles that I sent. If you own a successful blog you have a responsibility to the less fortunate and most vulnerable people (and, of course trees also!, we just need to classify it right!).
    It’s your party, it’s your website. But think about your family oriented audience. Many more adoptive parents that just me around here. Trees as important as real orphans, hey, we’re offended. Maybe we have something there, but you’re at the dictionary??? Changing lives is our lives work, it’s way more than watering a dry tree. But if you only want to present one viewpoint than I guess the blog is very good at that.

    • I built this website to allow a forum for people with differing opinions to get relevant local news as well as provide a place to comment on stories, such as this.

      However, to attempt to tell me that my use of two words is “appalling” actually makes me chuckle. In NO WAY was my intention ever to show disrespect for children or families of any kind. And yes, I consider myself a good father (are you trying to insult me?).

      These are just words, and they were initially used in an email tip i received from Rebecca Dare, and I still think they are appropriate.

      However, if you don’t, may I suggest you send letters to every dictionary maker in the world.

      And yes, as a writer/editor I do stand behind dictionaries and thesauri.

  3. And one other thing – in 2008 we helped raise over $12,000 for local charities, so to imply that I do not care about the less fortunate is wrong.

  4. Julie Dow says:

    Scott, I do not mean to imply anything personal. You are a great guy, father and super community oriented.. But of course words can offend and insult, and it did not look like a differing opion is welcome. Adoptive parents and children (ask any of them, really ANY of them, and I can point you to dozens) would have a very strong opinion on your word choice in the article.

    Trees are just not people, no matter how important they may be otherwise. We should water the trees. I agree, but it’s just not adoption and they are not orphans. Those are very loaded terms and journalistic ease should be used with a sensitive hand if you’ve not lived those realities. (I’m glad you haven’t).

    Did you have a chance to read the articles I sent from Adoptive Families Magazine? Can we ask for permission to post the text? That would be real dialogue and courageous on your part, and more than just a dictonary. – Julie

  5. Julie Dow says:

    May I also add that many people who start a “adopt-___” program are very well meaning, usually just uninformed, and once they consider the things they may have never thought of (no reason to think of them really), will do more than just “chuckle” at people who bring them new ideas.

  6. Lee Moyer says:

    Julie means well but strays a little far in such a narrow definition of adopt. Googling “adopt a” shows that in addition to children, you can adopt a grandparent; almost any kind of animal; a highway, or maybe just a trail; a platoon, or get more specific and adopt a sniper, and to even things out, adopt a terrorist; a watershed, or if you aren’t that ammbitious; a stream; a saint, a poet or a microbe; a fire station, Christmas tree or a grape; The list goes on. Maybe all that is needed is adopting a little more open mind.

  7. Barbara says:

    I applaud Rebecca’s efforts to rescue and help trees suffering in the drought. As an adoptive mother, I am sensitive to how adoptive children are portrayed in the media but don’t feel any need to “own” any definition of a word that has many definitions.
    Adopting a tree, a pet, a cause, or a child…all legitimate uses of the word, and none more protected than the other.
    Maybe Julie could focus more on the positive and many meanings of the word with her children instead of beating the dead horse of the oversensitive adoptive parent yet once again.

  8. Heather says:

    Isn’t the main idea behind using the word “adopt” (when talking about causes), to take care of someone or something that needs care? It sounds like everyone who has chosen to respond to this article agrees that the trees need to be cared for.

    There is a place for everyone to be passionate about what we believe in and it’s important that we stand behind our causes. Julie, your passion is clear – but I think it’s unfair to decide that the word can only be used for children.

    Rebecca Dare would never have used a word carelessly or insensitively. If anything, she usually borders on being TOO politically correct. I know, I’m her daughter.

  9. Rob says:

    Julie- what word would you expect people to use instead of “adopt”. I know Rebecca, and she is truly a caring and nice ladie. And kudos to her for trying to save a tree for others to enjoy.

  10. Julie Dow says:

    Wow Barbara, I was not aware I was beating a dead horse as an “oversensitive adoptive parent again”? Have I raised this issue with you before? (Or anyone in Burien, for that matter?) Would not know as you have not left your last name.

    For those that asked in a genuine way, the difference is that real adoption is forever , not just temporary stewardship.

    Rob, “sponsor”, “mentor”, “gift” , “steward” or “care for” all great words! Sponsor a highway, a resolution, etc. (I am not sure about a terrorist , microbe or sniper as Lee has mentioned but as said, I guess I need to open my tiny closed mind). I have learned from the productive comments here that I do need to open my definitions.

    Heather, the issue raised was with the journalist ease used in the article and never intended for your mother, who has a great idea. The trees need to be cared for, its important.

    • Jim Branson says:

      Julie, while I applaud your efforts to police the english language and right every wrong, I am appalled at your use of the phrase “Beating a dead horse.” You see, I used to be a horse in a former life, and I still have nightmares about it.

      The year was 1864 and my master, Horace, was whiping me across the plains of Eastern Oregon. As we climbed the hill east of Baker City, I stumbled blearily along Dry Gulch. Horace drank from his canteen as he watched me die of thirst. I collapsed there, in the dry creek bed, and my soul hovered over my body as I watched Horace beat my dead carcass with a dry branch from beside the trail, cursing me for stranding him.

      Every night, in the wee hours of the morning, I awake in a cold sweat, remembering that terrible day, so I will thank you for not using that phrase if you have any respect for horses, living or dead.

  11. Julie Dow says:

    Hi Jim, I was just directly quoting Barbara – no last name- , above, with the phrase about the previously living horses. I actually just might have a little more imagination. It sounds like you endured a really traumatic past life, maybe even you grew up in California or something?

    It’s alot to ask, but If you could look past your hurt for just a moment and just read the exchange above, you could have seen that I did not bring the silly phrase up, Barbara did. (But Barbara will likely find you oversensitive and redundant). While she was handing out put downs she upset you and brought up your shattering visions of a past life as well. I am sorry for that, as I do live to right every wrong. Is there any other way?

    I will now take up the cause of Burien blogging humans who had a traumatic previous equine life and be writing to every dictionary publisher while organizing a boycott of Amazon, Disney and Starbucks to champion your cause. We will find you all the medical and spirtual attention you need to move on. You do not need to endure your pain alone any longer.

    Even through all that hurt, you managed to pass along a compliment to me. How verry kind. Thanks for your applause. (In case anyone can’t be bothered to read up, this was how Jim opened his “angry mob” comment.) Wow Jim, you made a difference today in the life a former horse. That counts for something.

  12. Barbara says:

    I never post my last name on public blogs since the time I did and received phone calls at work from some lunatic I offended on a political blog. While I trust that the chances of this happening again are slim, it’s the choice I make.
    Instead of attacking me on this blog, why don’t you grow some and take it back to the adoption forum ( remember the place where NO ONE agreed with you ?) where the argument belongs .