Volunteers from Allandale, Brentwood and Crestview planted 10 trees along Burnet Rd on March 13. The trees are arranged to provide shade and buffer from traffic for future sidewalks. Six of the trees were planted at Frisco’s. Frisco’s staff will water the trees weekly for the next two years until they are fully established. “I think everyone on our staff loves trees and nature – we’re excited to bring beauty to the grounds of our restaurant,” general manager Deborah Donovan said. “Frisco’s has been an integral part of the neighborhood fabric for 58 years. Sidewalk trees that make Burnet Rd feel more like the surrounding communities fits well with our way of thinking,” Donovan said.
Four trees were planted at nearby bus stops. To water those trees, Sustainable Neighborhoods of North Central Austin (SN) is trying out a “Green Jug” program where jugs of water are left at the stop, and bus riders or other people can pour water on the trees and take the jugs with them to refill and return. Steven Zettner, a member of SN, said his group is monitoring the jugs closely to see how often they get used. “So far it seems like maybe one heroic person has used the jugs a couple of times in the first week,” Zettner said. “These aren’t heavily-frequented stops so maybe the numbers aren’t there for the green jugs to be the only watering source. If not, we think nearby neighbors can supplement watering the trees on evening walks.”
The project was not without mishaps. The ground under Frisco’s consists of compacted road fill. “We arrived with a lot of shovels but only one pick-axe”, Zettner said. “People had to go back and get more pick-axes to dig through nearly solid rock.” Then, on the second day after planting, somebody removed all of the green jugs and signs at both bus stops. “That was weird,” Zettner said. The group had conferred with both CapMetro and Public Works before implementing the project. Fortunately, milk jugs are free and the jugs were replaced at the Justin stop in under 24 hours.
Zettner said the Burnet trees were paid for from local donations raised in 2010 for planting of trees at Lamar Middle School. Most people who donated funds for that project gave permission to use the funds for other tree projects too, he said. SN was fortunate to receive a City of Austin Urban Forestry grant for the Lamar trees. Local donations directed to pay for Lamar MS trees only are being kept in reserve to replace irrigation parts, and if not used will be returned to the donors, he said.
SN’s goal is to plant 100 trees along Burnet over the coming four years. “We’re 20% there,” Zettner said. The group is in talks with CapMetro, Public Works, and area neighborhood associations to see about planting up to 20 trees in support of the planned MetroRapid (rapid bus) station near Burnet and Anderson. “Of course, if other neighborhood-friendly businesses like Frisco’s can help us water, we can plant more trees, and sooner,” Zettner said.