We only have one planet, and it’s a beautiful one. Whether you love Crowders Mountain or Mountain Island Lake or you’re happy with the park in your neighborhood, it’s easy to see the beauty of Planet Earth. With Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 27) fast approaching, you might wonder what you can do or how you can help.
Before you tell yourself the problems of taking care of the planet are too big or that you’re just one person, remember that even small things can make a big difference. What can you do this year? Maybe it’s time to plant a tree in your backyard.
Why You Should Plant a Tree
Let’s start with the why it’s time to plant a tree. Not only will you add something lovely to your yard and potential shade, you’re helping the environment. Trees provide additional oxygen and they improve air quality. They help preserve soil and offer a home to wildlife. Trees even help control the climate around your home from keeping it cooler in the summer to providing a screen from harsh winds in the winter.
Wanting to plant a tree and being able to are two different things. Be realistic about your space. If you have a very small yard, you may be better off with a flower or bush instead of a tree. Planting any kind of plant is a good idea, though. Just make sure you don’t plant trees or anything with a large root system too close to the foundation of your home, sewer lines, or walkways as they can cause damage as they grow.
Types of Trees to Plant
Maybe you have the perfect spot in your front or backyard for a tree, and you’d love to take this simple step in helping the environment. Now it’s time to pick your tree. Ideally, you’ll want to choose something that’s either native to the Carolinas or good for our climate. Talk to your local gardening club or someone knowledgeable at a local nursery if you’re not sure what to choose. Here are a few suggestions that make for great shade and beautiful foliage.
- Dogwood: Right up there with magnolias and honeysuckle, dogwoods are a quintessential southern favorite. The flowers are beautiful and they provide great shade in the summer.
- Red Oak: If you want beautiful colors in the fall, a red oak is a great option. This tree can grow up to 75 feet tall, so you’re going to need a big yard for it.
- Tulip Tree: Maybe planting tulips isn’t an option for you, but a tulip tree might be. The flowers look like tulips and you’ll get shade sooner than with other trees. This one can grow up to two feet in a year.
- Sugar Maple: Another great option if you want to enjoy changing colors in fall, the sugar maple can grow to be between 60 and 75 feet tall, so give this one some space, too.
- Silver Maple: Another beautiful maple tree, the silver maple adds shade to your yard as early as five years after you plant it. It has a big root system, though, so plant with care.
This Earth Day or Arbor Day, you can take big steps to reduce your waste, clean up your footprint, and help the earth. But you can also do simple things like planting a tree that will provide shade and beauty for years to come.