Why Trees?

Photo: istockphoto.com/Maurice van der Velden
The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man. J. Sterling Morton, co-founder of Arbor Day April 27 Trees are in vogue. Companies are using them as incentives for participating in green programs, guilty travellers are spending money to plant trees to offset carbon emissions and decorators are salivating over the latest blooms. But trendiness aside, trees are still our biggest eco-allies on the planet. Green 24-7 In one year, an acre of trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people and absorb the amount of CO2 produced by driving 42,000 km. Trees also absorb other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia and sulfur dioxide. Correctly placed, a tree can shade your home and reduce summer air-conditioning needs by 50 percent. Most trees only need 56 litres of water per week (the equivalent of two toilet flushes) and in return, they prevent erosion and provide food and shelter while adding beauty to our homes and communities. Invest in a green future Planting a tree is an act of selfless patience. You may not see it full grown in your lifetime, but it can be your legacy to future generations, including your family. Meanwhile, you need to pick the right tree for the right location. Your garden centre will be able to help. Knowing your soil/light/weather conditions will also narrow down your choices. Two excellent maps can be found at the Environment Canada website or at the U.S. National Arboretum website How to plant your commitment to a green future If you don't have time to plant the same day you buy, be sure to get a balled and burlapped (B&B) tree that can be stored a few days longer if kept moist. Bare-rooted trees should be planted immediately. Follow these simple steps to get your tree rooted.
  • Always lift your tree by the bottom, never by the trunk.
  • Before planting, gently straighten out any roots that are twisted or knotted.
  • Dig your hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. The most common mistake is to dig a hole either too narrow or too deep. Too narrow doesn't give the roots enough room to expand; too deep smothers the roots.
  • Loosen any hard soil around the hole. This is especially important if you have clay soil where the sides and bottom become smooth and form a barrier creating a condition known as glazing. Glazing prevents a tree from getting enough water. To prevent glazing, use a fork to make holes along the sides and in the bottom.
  • Place the tree in the hole, making sure it's evenly placed. For B&B trees, carefully untie the burlap after placing the tree. You can leave the burlap, since it will turn into compost over time.
  • Fill in soil around the root ball and pack down the soil to make sure there are no air pockets. Put in enough soil to level the hole with the ground. A good soil mixture is equal parts organic matter, coarse sand and top soil. Whatever you mix you use, it should be equal or better quality than the soil in which the plant originally grew.
  • Make a little dam around the base of the tree to hold in water, using extra soil or grass clippings.
  • Give your tree a good soaking to help it settle in.