Plant a Tree (Earth Day)

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

earth-dayEarth Day is right around the corner (April 22) and planting a tree is a great way to show your support.  Finding the perfect tree is not as simple as it sounds.  Here are some suggestions on those you should consider planting in your yard and the trees you may want to avoid.

You should first consider what you are looking for in a tree; amount of shade, the size, shape, blossom production, and the attraction of birds or wildlife.  Then do a little research to find out which trees thrive best in the area where you live.

A few top choices…

  • Red Maple –     Most common tree in Eastern U.S., it is adaptable to a wide variety of conditions.  Often used for shade and medium to high quality lumber.
  • Yellow Poplar –     Also called the Tulip tree because of the beautiful yellow blooms that reach from top to bottom.  It is a tall, fast growing tree, without the common problem of weak wood strength.
  • Red Oak –     Not usually very tall, but great for shade.  Leaves in the spring are a delicate silvery, pink and change to a yellow, green before finally turning red in the fall.
  • Dogwood –     A beautiful, blooming tree in the spring that attracts small birds.  Historically popular for wood strength, it was also used in inks and dyes and for the treatment of dogs with mange, which may be how it got its name.
  • Sycamore –     The sycamore is able to endure a big city environment and has been extensively planted as a shade tree.  It bears transplanting well and grows rapidly.
  • American Holly –    It will grow in both dry and swampy soil, but grows slowly.  Holly is also a cold-tolerant plant, playing an important role as a survival food for birds, who will eat the berries after other food sources are exhausted.
  • Redbud –     They are characterized by simple, rounded to heart-shaped leaves and pinkish-red flowers borne in the early spring on bare leafless shoots, on both branches and the trunk.
  • Conifers –    Conifers are of immense, ecological importance. They are the dominant plants over huge areas of land.  They are also of great economic value; primarily used for timber and paper production.

Skip these…

  • Silver Maple –     Great shade tree, but the speed at which it grows makes for weak, brittle wood that may break during severe storms.  The shallow roots invade sewer pipes and drain fields and are notorious for cracking driveways and walkways.
  • Ash –     Threatened by the emerald ash borer beetle that is on track to wipe out this tree species.  If you want something long term, look elsewhere.
  • Quaking Aspen –     Root system sends up suckers that try to turn into new trees.  Once established it just takes over.
  • Willow –     Beautiful on the outside, yes, but the willow has an aggressive, water-hungry root system that terrorizes drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation pipes. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the tree is relatively short-lived, lasting only about 30 years.
  • Eucalyptus —     This tree has a bad reputation for suddenly and unexpectedly dropping big, heavy, resin-filled branches.  The showy bark peels off annually and adds to seasonal maintenance chores.
  • Mountain Cedar –     This bushy tree releases massive amounts of pollen during the cooler months, causing severe allergic reactions in many people. Even if you don’t have allergies, planting one in your yard may affect neighbors.
  • Mulberry –     Big surface roots, lots of pollen, messy fruit, and shade so dense that grass refuses to grow underneath…and silkworms love it!!  The mulberry is the silkworm’s only source of food.

Our planet is in desperate need of more trees to replace the billions lost in development.  Planting a tree every year will add beauty to your yard, increase your home’s value, and help to make our planet a better place to live!

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