For the love of trees

For the love of trees

4 6 17

By Kathleen Clark

As the trees regain their leaves and flowers, I am again inspired to share some spring thoughts.

I am a tree lover. I wish every yard had a giant shade tree, a windbreak and a row of fruit trees. I admire the trees standing in historic places that very well may have been standing during the times that put them in the history books. I get excited when I see a unique tree in a neighbor’s yard and point out the special ones to the kids as we drive by. I even get a warm spot in my heart when I see a yard where the trees are mulched properly – I am that much of a tree nerd.

With those thoughts in mind, we can see that not all trees are created equal. In fact, you may be surprised, but I believe no tree may be better than a tree when it comes to town dwellings.

A viral editorial last year by Durant Ashmore, a nursery owner in South Carolina who harbors a hatred for a certain tree that is, unfortunately, prevalent in today’s landscaping. A plentiful sight this time of year are the white blooms of the Bradford Pear trees. Once you notice them, you can’t stop seeing them. Ashmore points out they are the “most unsafe tree available on the market today.” Do yourself a favor, and never plant this tree that has extremely poor branch attachment (resulting in broken limbs) as well as exceptionally invasive tendencies.

This talk of trees brings us to one of this nation’s most important holidays; Arbor Day! Arbor Day celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. It is celebrated on the last Friday of April each year. As they say, the time to plant a tree was yesterday. So make plans to improve your home this spring with a new tree.

Don’t you think a grand, tree-lined street makes for a welcoming community? Of course it does, and adds value to your property to boot. Thomas Jefferson said, “I never before know the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.”

When picking out a tree for this year’s Arbor Day planting, don’t be afraid to ask a professional. Their experience is gained through years of trial and error that you won’t have to endure to get the perfect tree.

For example – you may want to plant a beautiful willow tree in your front yard. Chances are you will regret that in a few years when you have to dig up your sewer system. In fact, some cities even ban willow trees. The roots want water and will destroy plumbing, sewers and pipes of all sorts to get it.

Keep in mind maintenance. Most trees don’t need much, but if you are part of an incorporated community, you really need to take care of your trees a bit more carefully since your home, your neighbor’s home, the public street, sidewalk and closer utility networks are all obstacles to your tree. Don’t let those factors deter you – a tree still adds many more valuable benefits above and beyond those obstacles. Trimming and mulching your tree occasionally will keep it healthy and beautiful.

That being said, trimming is not the same as topping. DO NOT TOP YOUR TREES! This is the chopping off of limbs with no regard to branch structure. I could go on for a long time on the evils of topping, just ask my family. Arborists do not top trees, and quality tree trimmers do not top trees. This is a topic for another day, so in a nutshell, know that topping leaves the tree unattractive and more importantly, unsafe.

Patience is a virtue, and even more so with trees. There are several fast-growing shade trees on the market which will allow you to enjoy their shade within the next decade. Still, don’t be afraid to plant and nurture a slow growing tree that will take the better part of a century to reach its full potential. Future generations will be thankful you planted it. I tend to get wordy when trying to make my point, so I will borrow this Chinese proverb, “No shade tree? Blame not the sun but yourself.”