NewsTree WardensA little girl with muddy hands

South London is a little greener thanks to a project between The Tree Council, Merton and Sutton Tree Warden Networks, and vital funding from the Mayor of London.

The tree planting season may have drawn to a close earlier than planned due to essential measures to tackle coronavirus, but this was still a bumper season for community tree planting, and we were very proud to receive funding for the ‘Trees & Hedges for Healthier Lives project’, as part of the Mayor of London’s Greener City Fund this year. We worked with Merton and Sutton Tree Warden Networks, Merton and Sutton Council, Friends groups and a whole host of willing volunteers to make it happen.

The project improved three well-used green spaces in Sutton and Merton – Figges Marsh, Ravensbury Park and Guy Road Rec – by planting orchards, hedgerows and copses of native trees. The newly planted trees will improve air quality next to some polluted roads, make well-utilised spaces more pleasant to use and provide free food for wildlife and people alike.

Across these three sites, 45 large trees and over 1,500 whips were planted by hard-working volunteers expertly coordinated by volunteer Tree Wardens. The project got more than 200 adults and children volunteers involved in making their local environment greener.

All three projects factored in proper aftercare for the next three years to ensure the trees and hedges planted flourish into the future.

Breathing new life into a remnant of historic common land – Figges Marsh, Merton

Figges Marsh is an open, grassy space adjacent to two busy road with poor air quality. Here, volunteers extended a privet hedge to provide a screen from the main road. Near another boundary, a copse of native tree species was planted which will also improve air quality and shield the busy roads from view so people can better enjoy the green space.

The project involved local residents, school children, worshippers from the nearby mosque and environment groups. Local volunteers have tied a ribbon around each of the newly planted trees to demonstrate that they will commit to watering the tree occasionally in its tender early years, ensuring the trees will thrive for years to come.

A family digging a hedge
A family of volunteers digging a hedge

Improving access to a local nature reserve – Ravensbury Park, Merton

Expertly planned and managed by long standing Tree Warden Jane Plant, volunteers from the local Friends group, along with local residents, planted low hawthorn hedges and hard-wearing shrubs with a few perennial plants at the meeting point to Ravensbury Park to make the space more inviting and make walking and cycling paths clearer. Volunteers also planted 15 large standard trees including birch, hornbeam, bird cherry, wild cherry and London plane to visually improve the space. The enhanced meeting place will not only benefit the biodiversity and ecology of the Park but also make this vital green space more inviting to residents and users of the historic Wandle Trail.

An edible orchard for wildlife and people – Guy Road Rec, Beddington Park, Sutton

Guy Road Rec is a small but well-utilised green space leading to historic Beddington Park, but the space itself comprised low-grade mown grass and lacked visual interest and ecological diversity. Volunteers planted a small community orchard of apple and pears trees, under-planted with hawthorn, hazel and blackthorn which will provide edible nuts and fruits that both wildlife and residents will benefit from.

Volunteers at Guy Road Rec

A huge thank you to Sutton Council, the Tree Wardens and every volunteer who got stuck in and helped make their local environment greener.

Do you want to plant a tree, orchard or hedgerow of your own? Find out more about this year’s community tree planting grants.