Rec & Parks is asking you to stop watering the self-watering trees

Elysian Park sapling in its cocoon

The Recreation and Parks Department is posting flyers around Elysian Park with an unusual request: Don’t water the trees.

The notices are being distributed in areas where about 300 saplings have been planted in Elysian Park since last fall under a pilot program. The tiny trees were planted in what are called Land Life Cocoons, which help support the tree and force the roots deeper into the ground to tap into ground water. The cocoon also includes a circular basin, covered by mulch, that stores and supplies water to the young trees. According to the manufacturer, the saplings won’t have to be irrigated during the first year after they have been planted.

However, some folks think the trees could use some help – and water, which officials say is not a good idea. Apparently the unwanted tree watering began after a person began urging others to irrigate the trees, according to the Urban Forestry Division. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, one of the program’s sponsors, said the tree lovers are doing more harm than good:

“These trees do not need additional water, in fact doing so could harm the process. Although it may be difficult to watch a sapling die, it is critical to learn from the survival rate of the cocoons planted for this pilot program to be effective.”

Park visitors are being advised against watering, touching or tampering with the trees and cocoons to monitor the results of the pilot program. If this approach proves successful, the pilot could go citywide to replenish the urban forest in a sustainable manner.

The Department of Recreation of Parks will post signs around the park asking people to not touch or water the trees. The signs will also have a QR code and a number to the Forestry Division within the Department of Recreation and Parks for more information. Those wanting to learn more can call at (213) 485-4826 or visit http://tinyurl.com/cocoonpilot.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. “All we are saying is give trees a chance.” -John Lennon

  2. I spoke to a professor of forestry up at WSU about these because the claims of ‘creating deep roots’ seemed to violate basic tree physiology that tells us that 80% of a tree’s root mass is in the top 24″ of soil where there is oxygen. She confirmed my suspicions that there is no published research regarding the efficacy of these ‘cocoons’, the claims don’t jive with basic tree physiology like I suspected, and one of her colleges pointed out that these are just a rebranding of a product that has been around for over a decade. That product doesn’t have any published research supporting the claims either. After that long a time if it actually worked there should be some positive research in the scientific literature.

    So thanks Forestry, you have been hustled by a snake oil salesmen. Way to waste good money. The scientific forestry community knows how to keep trees alive and this isn’t it.

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