Letters to the Editor: Trees aren't an excuse to keep grass. Their watering needs are different

LOS ANGELES, - JANUARY 15: Jim Henrich, botanical garden curator, walks past a Coast live oak, a tree that has been growing since the 19th century and is the largest in diameter in the Australia section at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. A rush to manage storm water forced communities propose cutting down hundreds of rare trees to create retention basins for urban runoff in the Australian section which would in turn loose about 20 percent of its trees. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
A curator at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia walks past a coast live oak in 2021. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A letter writer worries that our urban tree canopy will suffer if decorative turf grass is banned.

Frequent surface irrigation of turf under trees in medians, parks and elsewhere is actually counterproductive because it stimulates surface roots that lack the deep structure needed for stability and good health.

Many landscape trees are susceptible to root rot and fungal infection with the frequent and wasteful irrigation needed for the turf under their canopy. After windstorms, news videos show large trees toppled with a shallow root system.

Native trees such as the coast live oak, planted with an understory of local natives, will need only a deep watering infrequently or not at all once they are established. From the coast to the desert, there are a wide variety of trees, shrubs and perennials that thrive with a minimum of water.

Getting rid of turf grass where the only purpose is to please the human eye benefits wildlife and saves water.

Tony Baker, Rancho Palos Verdes

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.