The Need For Trees

San Antonio Express News
Gardening, Etc.
April 6, 2003

by Lynn Rawe

Oaktree clip artOne of the most important aspects of the landscape are trees. People love trees! They worry if their trees are sick. They anguish over what to do for their tree’s health, much as parents worry about their children.

A great deal of pleasure is derived from trees. They provide a cozy arena for us to enjoy the antics of birds, squirrels and cats. They provide a habitat for wildlife. We find relief from the hot Texas sun under the shade of trees and we simply enjoy they beauty.

Trees can potentially provide reduction of your energy consumption by up to 30 percent when shade is provided to roofs, windows and walls. To take advantage of this energy savings, trees should be planted in certain areas. Plant deciduous trees on the south or west side of your home. This allows maximum sun in winter and shade in summer. Locate evergreen trees on the north side of the house to help block the cold north wind.

Air pollution, soil erosion and surface water runoff are significantly reduced by trees. The leaves help absorb pollutants and roots prevent erosion. As the roots grow, more water can be absorbed into the soil, reducing runoff.

Trees are also important for adding value to your property. On average, trees add five to seven percent to the value of a home. Large trees might add as much as fifteen percent, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Fall is the best time to plant trees, but spring plantings adapt well also. Avoid planting trees during the July and August heat. The heat can stress newly planted trees too much. There are a number of considerations to take into account before buying and planting trees. Check what the mature size of the plant will be. Do not plant a tree that will be too large for your yard. Look at overhead power lines and avoid planting trees that will grow into the lines as they mature. Remember to consider not only height but also the spread of the mature tree. Trees should never be planted too close together. Crowded plants are more prone to disease problems.

Select trees that grow well in our area. There are many disease and insect resistant varieties available at local nurseries and garden centers. To receive a list of trees that grow well in our area, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to “Trees for South Texas,” Texas Cooperative Extension, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212, San Antonio, TX 78230.

Place trees far enough away from the house, patio, and sidewalk to avoid structural damage. Smaller trees of twenty-five feet or less should be placed at least ten feet from the corner or wall of the house. Larger trees should be planted on the average of fifteen feet away from the house.
Be sure that your new tree will not obstruct your view of traffic or corner views. You may want to locate the tree to block and unpleasant view. If you have a view that is especially enjoyable, avoid blocking that view.

Last, but definitely not least, you should know where gas and power lines are located before you dig. For your safety, call “Dig Test” at 1-800-545-6005 for the location of residential gas and electric lines.

This article was written by Lynn Rawe, County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.

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