This Friday, April 29, 2022, will be National Arbor Day, a holiday invented to recognize the importance of trees. It is most often observed by the planting of trees, either as a part of a group or as an individual homeowner. Here in Florida, we have Arbor Day in January, which has already come and gone. So, in case you missed that one, here is another opportunity to celebrate and find yourself a new tree.
To most people, planting a tree is a way of beautifying the yard while improving its value. But there are many more advantages to planting a tree. These affect both the homeowner and the environment in general.
- Starting with our own personal benefits, we cannot deny that trees can help to screen out undesirable views. Who really needs to see what the neighbors are doing at all hours of the day? And everyone would rather look at a view of a few trees, in place of an endless sea of houses.
- And what about climate control outdoors? Who would not prefer to sit under a shade tree than bake in the summer sun in this climate? Trees also serve a purpose in winter, as plants underneath them are more protected from frost than those planted out in the open. The leafy tree “insulation” may even keep temperatures a little warmer as well.
- Trees can be a source of food and shelter for both humans and wildlife. We can use various fruits from trees, while animals will appreciate acorns and berries. Birds need a place to build a nest, which a lawn cannot provide. Most wildlife does not like to be without nearby cover.
- As if all of this is not enough, trees even provide some extra benefits to the homeowner. In time, they will create some free mulch with their leaves. And clumps of trees can even reduce hurricane winds when the right trees are used. And what about flooding your own yard? If part of your yard is on the wet side, your trees can take up excess water.
- And what about energy bill savings? Trees help to insulate houses from heat when planted on the south, east, or west sides of the yard. Electric bills can be between 27% to 42% lower.
But what are some of the bigger benefits? As trees take up carbon dioxide, they provide oxygen for all of us to breathe. Trees reduce flooding and water pollution by taking up storm runoff water before it reaches lakes and storm water ponds. Trees also remove pollutants and particulates from the air, which improves air quality.
Considerations Before Planting a Tree
Considering all these things, why not go ahead and indulge yourself in a new tree? It is forever exciting to get a new beautiful plant.
Just remember to consider the mature height and width of the tree before you plant. Also, to be considered are the light conditions and the soil wetness, as you choose the right one for your situation. And if you only have room for a small tree, just plant one.
Here are just a few of the trees which you might consider:
- Large – Live Oak, Sand Live Oak, Bald Cypress, Pond Cypress, Southern Magnolia, Red Maple, Sweetgum, Loblolly Bay, Longleaf Pine
- Medium – Loquat, Tabebuia, Sand Live Oak, Dahoon Holly (for moist area), Crape Myrtle
- Small – Ligustrum, Sweet Viburnum, Walter Viburnum, Myrtle Oak, Simpson’s Stopper, Bottlebrush, Camellia, Crape Myrtle
Here are a few of my photos of trees as seen in their natural settings.
Loblolly Bay – tall and slender, it needs a moist but not flooded area. It is especially nice in summer when the blooms are out. Blooms resemble white single camellia flowers.
Longleaf Pine – a tall, long-lived tree in the right habitat. This one is towering over Myrtle Oaks and scrub vegetation in an upland natural area.
Sand Live Oak – Though officially listed as a small tree, specimens in the wild can become large.
Pictures by: Sandy Switek
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By: Sandy Switek since 2005 and Eva Maria Pabon Residential Horticulture Agent
Do you want to read more about gardening? Follow our blog Eva Pabon, Author at UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County (ufl.edu)