Arborist says benefits of tree planting are bountiful
The weather is unusually warm and the snow has virtually disappeared. Now it seems as if everyone’s waiting for one of the first signs of spring - the greening of branches still bare from the winter.
As it turns out, those beautiful green trees do more than just brighten up the neighborhood. Placing trees in an urban environment, says New Bedford City Arborist Chance Perks, provides real, tangible benefits.
Perks explained the benefits of planting trees at a talk Friday morning, hosted jointly by the Wareham Garden Club and the Wareham Land Trust. “New Bedford’s a city of concrete,” he said. “Even if you have an air conditioner, it’s only bringing in hot air from outside - but trees provide shade, and they decrease road noise.”
Other benefits of planting trees? They’re happy to remove pollutants from the air. They also provide wildlife habitats and mitigate stormwater inflow into storm drains. If that isn't enough a study done in Philadelphia suggests that leafy neighborhoods see less crime. Several studies indicate that mature trees near homes increase their property value. The US Department of Agriculture states that the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours per day.
Whoever said it was easy, being green?
Hoping to spur some tree planting in Wareham, Perks brought several ideas that he has been working on in New Bedford to the attendees. “I’m hoping you can replicate the successes we’ve had in New Bedford, without running into the problems we’ve seen,” he explained.
Perks’ first tree project is a tricky one. Perks and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell have declared intentions to plant 500 trees in New Bedford every year. Perks notes that the best time to plant trees is in the fall, any time before the ground freezes over.
The second project, Greening the Gateway, aims to plant 1,800 shade trees on private property and a further 600 trees on the streets.
The third, New Bedford’s Adopt-A-Tree program, offers residents the chance to pick out a tree and have it planted in the location of their choice in return for a $200 tax-deductible donation to the City of New Bedford. Many of the trees are chosen as memorials. New Bedford has planted 55 trees through the program,
Perks has four tips for people looking to spearhead their own tree-planting drive.
- Work out a watering schedule. Don’t even think about planting a tree unless you have a water maintenance plan. Young trees need frequent and regularly scheduled watering. (Pending rainstorms of course!)
- Consider your options when it comes to native plants. Try and plant a native species, but consider all the pros and cons first. Perks says roughly 60-80% of the trees planted in New Bedford are native species. However, he explained, occasionally foreign trees are are more resistant to blight and pests. “An urban environment is not a natural environment for a tree anyway.”
- Diversify! It’s true of both portfolios and trees. Diversification goes for both tree species and tree age. “Mother Nature does not create a situation where one species of tree is alone, as far as I’m aware.” Perks noted that trees should have age gaps, so that there is a mixture of tree sizes and ages.
- Start today. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago,” he told the room at large. “The second best time is now.”