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Trees add value to a landscape

By Ray Ridlen

Trees offer many benefits to the home and neighborhood landscape. Taking time in the process of selecting, planting and caring for your tree can result in a healthy tree that survives and provides these benefits for many years.

Among the many benefits are:

--Shading areas to help cool the environment and humidify the air. A tree placed on the west side of a building can help reduce the cost of cooling in summer.

--Screening of unsightly views or providing privacy to an area.

--Reducing noise from wind or nearby roadways.

--Attracting wildlife such as birds and butterflies promoting a healthy ecosystem.

--In a community setting trees provide shady places for recreation.

--Directing sight or travel through a garden area.

--Stabilizing soil and reducing run-off and flooding.

--Removing pollution from the air, such as ozone, chlorine, fluorine, sulphur dioxide, and carbon. Approximately six kilograms of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere for each tree in urban areas. A tree will also filter air-borne particulates such as dust, pollen, and other particles.

--Controlling prevailing summer and winter winds.

--Improving the aesthetics of the environment contributing to human health and well-being.

The wrong tree in the wrong place though, could lead to failure, disappointment, and at times, costly repairs.

Measures to help ensure the success of trees in urban areas are:

--Plan for tree growth and maintenance in the selection of a planting site. Avoid planting too close to overhead power lines and poles, street corners, hydrants, and underground utility lines and access points. Trees may require pruning throughout their life span. Safe access for cutting and removing branches must be considered.

--Match the needs of the tree for soil quality, space for the canopy and root zone. The root zone of a tree will extend beyond the circumference of the canopy. The tree will compete for water and nutrients with plants, including grass, in the root zone.

--Provide adequate water to a tree during the first two to three years after planting.

--Select tree species or cultivars that are appropriate for the region and location, and plant at the right time. Container-grown shade trees and pines can be planted in October and bare-rooted trees and shrubs in February.

Before selecting the tree:

--Do a soil analysis test.

--Review potential tree candidates. Does the tree require special care? Does the tree produce anything that might cause a problem in your landscape such as hard seeds, sap, berries that stain? Does the tree attract unwanted creatures (most trees attract animals, birds, and insects that use the tree and its products to make a living or provide shelter)?

At the nursery:

--Inspect the tree for strong, a well-developed leader (in most species look for a single leader), bright healthy bark, limbs and trunk free of mechanical injury, branches well distributed around the trunk and spaced 10 to 18 inches apart, wide angles where the branches leave the trunk. Narrow angles will break easily and may lead to disease.

--Avoid trees that have roots circling around the edge of the container (pull the tree up out of the container and inspect the root ball).

--Avoid a balled and burlaped tree with a broken ball. Check where the twine holding the ball passes around the trunk. The twine should not cut into the bark of the tree.

For more information about selecting, planting, and caring for trees contact your local county Extension service.

Date: 10/1/2012

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