Growing Green

Mainers work hard to be green. In recent years we've learned a lot about saving electricity, conserving fossil fuels, recycling and carbon footprints. There is another simple green practice many people have overlooked: planting trees.

There are many environmental benefits to planting trees and shrubs in your yard. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air, filtering pollutants with their leaves and bark. In one year, an acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe and absorbs enough carbon dioxide to offset driving your car 26,000 miles. They help conserve energy by shading and cooling your home in the summer and evergreen trees can provide a barrier to harsh winter weather. Established roots of shrubs and trees can also help prevent soil erosion. Trees add value to our homes and communities by muffling sound, hiding concrete, power lines and poles and by providing a healthy green environment to live in.

Fall is a great time to plant new trees in your yard. The weather is perfect for working outdoors and there's still plenty of time in the season for roots to establish themselves before winter arrives.

When selecting a tree for your yard, consider the space you have and what your goals are: shade, privacy, fruit, etc. There are hundreds of trees that thrive in Maine's climate. Oaks, sugar maples, ash and beech are some large trees that will grow to fifty feet or more and provide wonderful shade in the summer. Hawthorns, shadbush and flowering crabapple are smaller varieties better suited to plant in smaller spaces, near power lines or for ornamentation.

Soil conditions are an important consideration to the success of a healthy tree. Knowing which nutrients your tree needs is the first step to ensuring your soil will promote optimum plant growth. In general, it's best to use organic fertilizers that contain beneficial bacteria and microorganisms. These fertilizers are readily available to gardeners today and are environmentally friendly.

Make your green endeavors even more meaningful by purchasing specimens that are grown locally. Supporting local growers ensures more Maine land is used to produce these renewable resources, providing wildlife habitat and cleaner air for us all.