We’ve all read what experts in global warming have to say about the environmental benefits of trees. And from the gardening world we see articles offering "Tips for Choosing Small Trees for your Yard". But when carbon counts are tallied by an experienced gardener, it suddenly gets more interesting to people like us, so I recommend to you this piece by Adrian Higgins in the Washington Post. Here are my favorite bits.
People who study this stuff say that an 18-inch-diameter white oak will remove 622 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air every year. Sounds good, right? But the average two-person household in the U.S. releases 41,500 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air annually. So if you don’t have room for the hundreds of mature trees required to remove that much, Higgins suggests donating to American Forests – they’ll plant them somewhere else.
Then you can increase the carbon benefits of a tree 15-fold by using it to shade the house in summer. Remember the solar panel v. tree battle that recently got so much news? More to come.
And of course the benefits of trees go beyond carbon sequestration to filtering pollution, preventing erosion, providing wildlife habitat and making us all happier.
Go to Casey Trees’ website to use their "neat" calculator of carbon sequestration. You can determine exactly how much carbon is being sequestered by the trees on your property, as Higgins did for his.
AND WHAT GARDENERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TREES
A lot of people are surprised when small trees become large trees and the altered light conditions reduce the number of flowering plants to choose from, or the chances of raising a tomato vine or growing grass. It changes the character of a garden, which is fine, but you should know that.
If you plant a tree, you should do your best to keep it alive…Some experts believe it takes five years to plant a tree.
Beyond all the obvious reasons to keep our trees alive, Higgins reminds us that dead trees stop capturing carbon. Then when they’re chopped up into mulch and start decomposing, most of the carbon stored in those chips is released right back into the atmosphere. There’s that damn cycle of life going on.