It’s All About Trees!
Trees provide numerous environmental values such as air cleansing, reduction in storm water runoff, carbon sequestration and providing canopy and habitat for wildlife. They also bring us financial benefits such as raising property values and reducing energy costs. To quantify the benefits to your home landscape check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator from Casey Trees in Washington, DC; you may be surprised at what you learn.
Finally, trees impart numerous social and human benefits that are not so easily quantified. We wait almost breathlessly for the bright young green of the new leaves on our trees in the spring. We naturally head for the cool spot under a tree to get relief from the sun on a hot summer day. We so appreciate their brilliant autumnal display that a whole industry has arisen out of it. Formally with a planned trip, or informally with a quiet walk, leaf peeping allows us to soak up the last vestiges of their autumn glory each fall.
We appreciate trees for their beauty and how they make us feel at one with nature. We step under a canopy of trees and we feel more serene and peaceful. We love our old tree lined streets and slow down to appreciate them. We band together to save a favored old tree that adds to the history of our area. So while many of their benefits may be quantified, there are so many that are incalculable. We suggest that you do yourself and coming generations a favor and plant a tree. We’ll all feel better and thank you for it.
In 2012 Ewing suffered unprecedented damage to the tree canopy in its public parks as a result of the late July microburst and Hurricane Sandy. Our current tree canopy coverage is 27.4%, below the state average of 40%. That’s because we’re very developed, with little open space remaining. Our goal as a community is to repair our tree canopy in order to approach that statewide average with plantings of 200 trees per year.
Plant a Tree Today!
- Choose your tree carefully. Be sure to choose the right tree for the right place. Take into consideration the eventual height and width of the tree in your planning and its growth rate. Do you need a deciduous (a tree that loses its leaves in winter) or an evergreen tree? Pay attention to the soil, sun and moisture requirements of your selection. Also make note of the hardiness zone (generally denotes the minimum temperatures that a plant can withstand) and heat zone (measure of the heat tolerance of a plant). With the increasing concerns about rising temperatures, this later measure should also be considered.
- Plant native. This means choose trees that are native to our Central Jersey area and thus better adapted to our climatic conditions and that also provides habitat and food for the animals in the food web. See Large and Small Native Trees for Landscaping from the New Jersey Native Plant Society. Do not purchase anything on their New Jersey Invasive Species Plant List. That means no Callery Pears, Norway Maples, Tree of Heavens… Also avoid trees that are being threatened by invasive insects such as the Ash Tree, now threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer.
- Plant at the right time. Generally, spring and fall are the best times to plant as there is more likelihood of sufficient rainfall and the temperatures are cooler. You should also be prepared to ensure that your new tree receives sufficient moisture while it is getting established during the first two years of its life.
- Mulch properly. This means no mulch volcanoes. Mulch should never be piled up into a cone around a tree trunk. This kills trees and wastes money on excess mulch material. For more information read Mulch Volcanoes Killing Trees in New Jersey, a pamphlet by the NJ DEP Division of Parks and Forest Services – Community Forestry Program. (warning – large file). Use a “green” mulch which is a living mulch (plants), to do the work of a brown mulch. It should ideally be composed of plant communities appropriate to the site/tree, planted densely. Green mulch offers the same benefits as traditional mulch, while providing valuable habitats for wildlife and improving soil health.
- Check out planting and care tips from the Arbor Day Foundation.
Invasive Pests Threaten Our Landscape and Forest Trees
The following are some of the latest invasive insects that are threatening New Jersey trees.
The Emerald Ash Borer
An invasive Asian pest that was accidentally imported into the US in 2002. It was first discovered in Michigan and has since spread to over 25 states. Learn more…
The Spotted Lantern Fly
A plant hopper that is native to China, India and Vietnam and has become a major pest in eastern PA and in 8 counties in western NJ. It has been spotted in Ewing landscapes. Learn more…
THE BENEFITS OF TREES
- TREES are a part of the process that creates the air that we breathe, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing life-giving oxygen into the air.
- TREES purify the air. They also absorb toxic chemicals in the air, reducing air pollution.
- TREES reduce storm water runoff. Their leaf canopies help reduce erosion caused by falling rain. They also provide surface area where rainwater lands and evaporates. Roots take up water and help create conditions in the soil that promote infiltration.
- TREES save water. Through transpiration they absorb water their leaves and bark, storing it in their roots. They release it back into the atmosphere through evaporation from their leaf pores.
- TREES sequester carbon. They soak greenhouse gases and store carbon in their trunk and branches.
- TREES help to rebuild the soil. They add beneficial nutrients, increasing soil fertility. The autumn leaf drop also adds essential nutrients as the leaves decompose providing a healthy, organic fertilizer to themselves and nearby plants. Learn more with our “love ’em and leaf ’em” campaign.
- TREES provide habitat for wildlife. Trees, particularly native trees, offer shelter to incalculable species of wildlife, from the smallest insects, to birds, to bats, mammals,… According to renowned entomologist Douglas Tallamy one native oak tree provides the greatest benefit to wildlife of any tree that you can plant. It is capable of supporting 534 varieties of butterflies and moths through their life cycle, not to mention the hosts of birds and other wildlife that they support. Even dead trees, left standing, provide essential habitat.
- TREES provide cooling shade. On a hot summer day, you can feel the cooling benefits of the trees in your yard. They will help to reduce air conditioning costs.
- TREES improve the value of our properties and make our neighborhoods more visually appealing. They also stimulate and improve commercial developments. Who wouldn’t rather walk along a tree-shaded avenue in a shopping district or rent an apartment in a more wooded setting than one devoid of shade?
- TREES provide food. From nuts to fruit, to maple syrup, trees nourish us as well as the wildlife on which we depend.
- TREES save lives. According to scientific research, trees can lower the air temperature as much as a lifesaving 10 degrees. Particularly in cities, their cooling effects reduce the need for air conditioning and the demand on the power grid. This makes them vital assets as we experience more heat waves as a result of accelerating climate change. Their ability to remove fine particle pollution from the air also improves human health.
- TREES are beautiful. We appreciate them for their beauty and how they make us feel at one with nature.
 Tallamy, Douglas W., “Bringing Nature Home.” Timber Press, 20076, Portland Oregon, 2007. page 147