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Fall Is A Great Time To Plant A Tree

Fall is the perfect time of year to plant trees, which add value to our lives, our homes and our waterways. Photo by The Arbor Day Foundation

At this time of year, we both admire trees for the spectacularly colorful show they provide to our landscape and curse them for the constant supply of leaves they drop on our lawns. But trees add value to our lives, to our homes and to our waterways that we may not always appreciate. Fall is the perfect time of year to plant trees. Soil is warmer, and water is abundant in fall. By spring, they will be strong enough to withstand the summer’s heat and will be farther along in their growth cycle.

For early fall planting, choose ball and burlap stock to protect roots from freezing. In late fall, you can use bare root stock, which are dormant and not subject to damage. Smaller trees are better for transplanting in fall than larger trees, especially those with foliage still present, because larger trees are more subject to damage. Soil temperature should be around 55 degrees for planting, and there should be 6 inches of cover over the roots for protection. It is more risky to plant species such as red maple, birch, dogwood, poplars and cherry in the fall, but it is also a great time to find a sale at a nursery. With a little extra care and some advice from your local supplier, it may be worth the risk. Newly planted trees need a lot of water, so be sure to add about an inch of water per week until the ground is frozen. You should also wrap the trunks of young trees to protect them from weather and animal damage.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, trees in your yard may add up to 15% to the value of your homes, cut cooling costs by 15% to 35% by providing shade in summer, and cut heating costs by 10% to 20% by acting as a windbreak in winter. For homes over $250,000, the Arbor National Mortgage and American Forests state that 98% of Realtors felt mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the ability to sell your home. They add oxygen to and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and provide food and shelter for wildlife. They even cut down on noise and light pollution in our neighborhoods. Within the Chautauqua Watershed, those trees also provide an important job in protecting our streams, ponds and lakes.

Trees act as guardians of our watershed. They reduce the flow of material into streams and lakes by slowing water movement, which prevents damage to property, such as the expensive problem of washed out roadways. For example, just one Colorado blue spruce can intercept over 1,000 gallons of water when fully grown. This allows water to be slowly returned to its natural aquifer, where it percolates through layers of dirt and gravel, cleaning it further. It is estimated that forests in the USA provide natural filtration and water storage that processes two-thirds of our nation’s water supply.

Trees are also the first line of defense in reducing flooding and providing stormwater protection. Planting deciduous trees and shrubs in the fall and evergreens in the spring in your yard will help to reduce the buildup of plant life in the lake, protect shoreline and streams from erosion and build your own mini-filtration plant right in your own backyard. And please remember to plant native trees, as only native trees provide habitat for hundreds of species of insects which are nutritionally necessary to support abundant populations of our feathered friends.

For regional native plant lists, visit chautauquawatershed.org. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit chautauquawatershed.org or facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.

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