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Parks and Open Space

Green Streets Community, sponsored by Tree Canada Foundation, and National Resources Canada


Adopt a tree on Broadway!

The Coalition to Save the Elms and the City of Winnipeg's Urban Forestry Branch are undertaking a program of rehabilitation for the elms on Broadway. We will clean, prune, water, vertical mulch, fertilize, band, remove dead trees, replant those that have fallen and provide an ongoing inspection and assessment. Over the next five years, we hope to rehabilitate many of the trees and literally bring new life back to Broadway.


  • The Urban Forestry Branch of the Parks and Open Spaces Division of the Public Works Department, in cooperation with the Coalition to Save the Elms, received a grant under the Green Streets Canada program from the Tree Canada Foundation.
  • Purpose of the program is to "rescue the trees" on Broadway because they are significantly declining from the harsh urban environment, soil compaction, vehicle exhaust, and the use of de-icing salts. Approximately five to eight large American elm trees are dying each year. Under these circumstances, it is anticipated the "canopy-effect" along Broadway will be lost within the next 10 to 20 years.
  • The primary activities of this project include tree inventory, planting, tree/forest education activities, tree maintenance (banding, pruning, vertical mulching, watering, and fertilizing), and research.


  • In 2006, one of the key activities initiated involved the process of vertical mulching. The purpose of vertical mulching is to lessen compaction and improve air and water circulation to tree roots.
  • This process uses a tool called an "Air Spade" which is connected to an industrial compressor. This tool was used to blow holes in the ground approximately 50 millimetres in diameter. This process was repeated on a grid every 45 centimetres throughout the entire centre median.
  • Before the holes were created, the boulevards were irrigated for two reasons. First, high concentrations of salt needed to be flushed away to aid tree growth. Secondly, saturating the boulevards increased the efficiency of the "Air Spade" tool.
  • After irrigation, the holes were backfilled with different treatments (coarse sand, 4-way soil mix, 4-way soil mix with fertilizer or control - no treatment) on each median block.
  • The medians were then irrigated again to ensure the materials went into the holes.
  • The different treatments will be evaluated over the next few years to determine the most effective one.
  • The Coalition to Save the Elms launched their fundraising campaign on June 26th, 2006.
  • In 2007, the City of Winnipeg Urban Forestry Branch will be planting 47 new trees along Broadway.
  • 40 of these new trees will be planted on the centre median using a new planting technique that involves excavating larger tree pits using a backhoe or hydro-excavation technique. These larger pits will allow more quality, uncompacted soil to be available for the tree roots, which should help them establish.
  • Also, a layer of mulch will be applied to each tree site with care taken not to pile it around tree stems - that could cause rot. Mulch helps prevent grass or weeds that compete with trees from establishing in tree sites and also helps the soil around the roots retain moisture for the trees to utilize.
  • These plantings will be replacing trees that have been lost over the last few years.
  • The remaining seven will be planted in sidewalk areas located on the north side of Broadway - some between Donald and Smith streets and others between Carlton and Edmonton streets. These plantings will be incorporating new technology known as "structural cells".
  • Structural cells are strong, underground structures made up of a series of decks and frames that can be placed under sidewalks and streets. They support the paved areas while creating volumes of underground space that can be filled with high quality soil when structural cells are used.
  • This is an experimental project. Structural cell technology is very new. If these 7 trees do well, structural cells will be integrated into more downtown planting projects.

Disappearing Elms - What would it be like without our Broadway Elms

Urban Forestry Branch Contact Information:
1539 Waverley St., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 4V7
tel: 311, Fax: 204.222.2839

Last update: January 15, 2018