Planting trees is something that all of us can do to help the planet. Most of us learned in elementary school that trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, keep us cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and usually make a nice pile of leaves in the fall for us to stomp around in.
Trees have other benefits. Trees not only turn carbon dioxide into oxygen; they also store excess carbon in their structure and the soil in which they grow, thus helping clean up the air and providing oxygen to breathe.
Trees also help clean the water than runs through your yard by slowing it down, filtering with their roots and the microbial action in the soil that their roots encourage. By providing shade to cool and warm our homes, trees encourage us to use less energy heating and cooling with electricity or other polluting sources.
Furthermore, trees provide a refuge and in many cases food for local native wildlife. Birds, insects and other visiting creatures will find sustenance in the trees you grow. Trees also help prevent soil erosion by spreading their roots through the soil.
In addition to all those benefits, many trees (fruit and nut) will provide food for you and your family. Trees also add beauty and value to your landscape. Ask any Realtor, you’ll find out that trees are worth real money when it comes time to sell your house. Ask any kid and you’ll also learn that trees are great things to climb, hide out in, and perhaps serve as scaffolding for a clubhouse.
So go ahead, plant a tree or two this winter. Now is a great time to add trees to your landscape. Planted now, the roots of new trees have time to settle into their new home, spread and grow a little, before the rush to produce begins in the spring. There will be less stress on the new trees if they are given time to adjust to the new environment.
Most local nurseries have potted trees ready to plant. Remember to make the hole bigger than the pot — wider not deeper.
The tree needs to be planted a little higher than it is growing in the pot. Tree bark will not turn into roots, but roots can turn into bark. A tree planted too deep will not be able to get enough air into the roots and will suffocate.
Digging a squarish hole with rough sides will encourage the roots to spread outwards rather than going around and around in a smooth round hole. Mulch your new tree but don’t pile the mulch against the trunk. Keep the tree watered for at least the first year of its growth.
Remember, anyone can plant a tree — kids, adults, teenagers. It might be a good holiday activity for the whole family. You and future generations will enjoy the fruits (or nuts) of your labor.