Earth Day is next week on April 22nd, and this year will mark its 50th anniversary. This designated day has been used to increase awareness around global and local ecosystems, pollution, climate change, endangered species, and many other environmental issues. Arbor Day follows on April 24th. To celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day, let’s take a closer look at how trees benefit us, and the natives you can plant in your own yard.
Trees provide Oxygen: This is a biggie! We need Oxygen to live. So that’s a pretty clear benefit we should all be able to agree on.
Trees combat climate change: As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. Many scientists believe that reforestation is the best combative action we can take against climate change.
Trees provide food: Trees feed people and wildlife in the form of fruits, nuts, leaves, bark, and roots. Even dead trees provide shelter and food for many animals and insects.
Trees absorb air pollutants and filter dust particles: Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
Trees reduce erosion, help ground infiltration, and support proper evaporation: Trees reduce the rate of erosion by protecting the soil from the impact of heavy rain and run off, transpire large amounts of water, and bind soil to sloping land with their roots.
Trees slow water pollution: Where fresh water once fell as rain (and was filtered by the forest and slowly released) there are now farm fields, lawns, and parking lots that pour polluted sediment into our streams and rivers. Research shows that river basins with the greatest amount of farmland produce the most pollution-laden sediment. Nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural fertilizers and poultry waste increase the proliferation of bacteria that, in turn, consume oxygen dissolved in the water. Deforestation along rivers and streams means that there are no woodlands to hold back the water, creating a faster flow, and reducing the number and array of ecosystem services a waterway can provide.
Trees clean and filter our water: A healthy 100-foot-tall tree has about 200,000 leaves. A tree this size can take 11,000 gallons of water from the soil, process it, and release it into the air again, as oxygen and water vapor, in a single growing season. A healthy, mature tree drinks about 50 gallons of water per day.
Trees muffle noise and create masking sounds: Leaves, twigs, and branches on trees, shrubs, and herbaceous growth absorb and deflect sound waves. Vegetation also generates masking sounds, as leaves rustle, branches sway, and stems creak. Sounds of wildlife attracted to urban vegetation, such as birds and insects, also mask noise pollution.
Trees cool temperatures and act as a sunblock: In cities around the world, trees are often planted to help control temperatures and mitigate the effects of the “urban heat island,” often called “nature’s air conditioners” — also reducing energy use. And sitting under a shade tree provides the equivalent of SPF 10 sunblock – according to the University of Purdue.
Trees reduce violence: Study after study has shown a strong relationship between higher levels of tree canopy and lower levels of crime, regardless of socioeconomic factors. In New Haven, CT, a 10% increase in tree canopy was associated with a 14% decrease in property crimes and a 15% decrease in violent crime. Similar results were found in Baltimore, with a 12% drop in all outdoor crimes for each 10% increase in tree canopy. In Chicago, an old rail corridor turned tree-lined trail had the unexpected result of a rapid decrease in the local crime rate. A public housing development, also in Chicago, had 48% fewer property crimes and 56% fewer violent crimes in or around buildings with more greenspace.
Trees are our living history: Heritage trees are an integral and valuable part of our natural and cultural landscape and are often among the oldest living objects in the country. They are often all that remains as a legacy of some of our most historic moments.
Trees create economic opportunities: Large and small communities require people to grow, plant, and nurture trees. This creates sustainable jobs for nurseries, lumber mills, urban planners, ecologists and arborists. The lumber industry alone provides work for 13.2 million people worldwide.
Trees increase property values: A tree in front of a house increases the home’s sales price by an average of $7,130, according to the PNW Research Station. And if that tree is part of a beautiful, well-kept landscape, it can increase your home value by 6-11%, found Michigan University.
So with all that in mind, here are several New England native trees we love, and have in stock for Earth Day and Arbor Day planting, and to be enjoyed for years to come!
Red or Swamp Maples (Acer rubrum)
‘Redpointe’ 25 galon
‘Scarlet Jewel’ 25 gallon
Sugar Maple (Acer sacharum)
‘Flashfire’ 20 gallon
Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis)
‘Native Flame’ 10 gallon
Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) 10 gallon
Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) 5-7 gallon
Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
American Linden (Tilia americana)
‘Redmond’ 7 gallon
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) 10 gallon