Trees — they help sustain the environment, and if you’re one of our MetroBus riders, you love to see them at the bus stops. They look nice, give you shade and keep you cooler during the summer. And, now we’re one step closer to seeing them at every bus stop thanks to the partnership between Capital Metro and volunteers from Sustainable Neighborhoods.
Earlier this month, over 25 volunteers went out to nine bus stops on Burnet and Anderson to plant two or three Mexican Plum and Texas Redbud tree seedlings at each site on March 11.
The seedlings were planted with a nifty new item called a Groasis Waterboxx, which will help water the seedlings for one year through a self-irrigation process. After a year, the trees should naturalize and not require subsequent watering when the re-useable Waterboxx can then be installed on another seedling.
The partnership is the beginning of a trial project for planting the street trees along Capital Metro bus routes.
“The tree seedlings are tiny – just 4″ liners,” Steven Zettner of Sustainable Neighborhoods said. “The waterboxxes are about the size of a large tire. They are donut shaped and wrap around the seedling, buffering it and emitting moisture very slowly. The waterboxx’s water bladder absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, causing water to condensate and refill the bladder.”
Since the planting day, Sustainable Neighborhoods has been checking in on the bus stop seedlings and documenting their progress on their blog: http://www.snaustin.org/brainstorming/waterboxx
“Thanks in part to good rains, the waterboxxes have remained mostly full and the plants wet. Will be interesting to see how they fare over the summer if the rain stops,” according to one blog entry on March 23.
Now, there are 20 new Waterboxxes in North Austin and if the trial proves successful, it will signal a new method for planting trees at bus stops in an environmentally friendly mission that’s less expensive and labor-intensive.
“There are about 25 bus stops on Burnet between 2222 and 183, six have shaded shelters, two are at existing shaded locations, and we planted trees at 7 more,” Zettner said. “Assuming our trees make it, that will eventually double the shade quotient … and if this experiment pans out, we’ll be able to hit many other bus stops and sidewalk locations around NC Austin in the coming couple of years.”
The project has already helped to raise awareness and plant seedlings in North Austin that will one day help shade our riders and help the environment. If you stumble upon one of our little trees tell us how they’re doing and shoot us a picture of its progress. We can’t wait to see them full-grown and hope the project can keep expanding to help plant more trees!