Plant them for what they are


Are you concerned about cleaning out your gutters, raking leaves, pruning branches, picking up dead limbs, or doing other upkeep on your trees? Do you worry about sap dripping on your parked car? Do you fret at the thought of a tree blowing over onto your house during a windstorm? If these things keep you up at night, you could use them as reasons for not planting a tree.

But on the other hand, do you enjoy a shaded spot to sit in the backyard? Do you appreciate lower heating bills thanks to the windbreak west of your house? Do you have shade trees to keep your house cooler in the summer? What about that tire swing hanging from a tree that the kids spent countless hours on, or the tree house the kids used to play in? How about the birds and other wildlife you enjoy watching through your kitchen window? These would all be great reasons to plant a tree.

The Preble Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual tree sale is now underway. Every year, we are tasked with selecting species that will appeal to our tree sale customers. We consider longevity, tolerance to wetness and drought, growth rate, flower and leaf color, size, native status, and a host of other characteristics before adding them to our list. I’ve often wondered if there is a perfect tree for our sale; one that is easily transplanted, fast growing, thrives anywhere, tolerates shade to full sun, and requires little care. I can list a few species that fit this description, but unfortunately, they also happen to be nasty invasives with names like Bush Honeysuckle and Kudzu.

The reality is, there are no perfect trees. None. There are, however, quite a few species worth planting in your yard or woodlot. My advice to you is to plant them for what they are. Do you want a fast-growing tree? Chances are, they will not be long lived. A few trees fitting this category might be willows and some pines. As a wise forester once told me, these trees are the ‘rock stars’ of the tree world. They live fast and die young. Do you want a long-lived tree? Chances are, it will not be fast-growing. Think about the Whispering Oak at Fort St. Clair which is well over 200 years old. As you can see, there are obvious tradeoffs to consider when looking at tree features.

Take a chance to peruse the plant descriptions on the order form and consider which species would lend themselves to your site. We offer a little bit of everything from evergreens to large trees, on down to shrubs and groundcover. Feel free to contact the District if you have questions or would like more information about the species offered.

By BJ Price

Preble SWCD

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