Written on January 6, 2010 at 7:25 am , by Justin W. Hancock
My fellow BHG garden editors and I had the pleasure of hosting representatives from ISA — International Society of Arboriculture — yesterday here at BHG headquarters. Arboriculture is the field of growing and maintaining trees and it covers a lot more than you may think: From picking the right tree, planting it correctly, maintaining it well (dealing with everything from pruning to storm damage to attack from pests such as Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer), and the sad job of taking it down once a tree has reached the end of its natural lifespan.
We all know that trees are good — they help give oxygen, filter pollutants from the air, and create shade — but the folks at the ISA pointed out other reasons why we should have trees in our lives. For example:
- They increase our property values.
- Casting shade on our homes in summer or blocking cold winter winds can help save a significant amount of money from our heating and cooling bills.
- Tree roots help absorb storm water runoff, allowing moisture to naturally filter back into the environment instead of going into storm sewer systems.
- They can help make us better people; recent research at the University of Rochester showed that being around trees and nature can reduce our stress, help us heal from injuries faster, and can actually help us create closer relationships with friends/family.
Interested in adding a tree to your landscape? Check out our online Plant Encyclopedia to help you find the best type for your needs.
Written on November 12, 2009 at 6:00 am , by Everyday Gardeners
If ever I needed proof that good potting mix matters to plants, I got it last weekend while repotting chestnut seedlings. These two seedlings were grown in the same size pot, in the same lighting conditions, and with the same watering and fertilizing regimen. Yet you can see the vast difference in root development. Plus, the chestnut on the right is substantially taller, as you’ll see in the photo below.
I remember what happened. I had run out of potting mix, so I substituted topsoil for a small number of seedlings. Even after “cutting” it with peat moss, the topsoil was too heavy and thick to be used as a container medium.
Moral of the story: use a good potting mix (here’s one I use) and beef it up with compost (and sand, if you’re working with woody plants). Avoid using topsoil in containers even if it’s amended. Your plants will be larger and stronger. And the more extensive root system will help plants deal with drought and neglect.
Written on October 22, 2009 at 2:53 pm , by Everyday Gardeners
About 14 years ago I planted two red oak trees in my brother’s yard. One came from an independent nursery, the other from a now-defunct big box retailer. The first had a sizable root ball, well-developed branching, and $40 sale price. The second was deformed and sad-looking (I actually felt sorry for it languishing on the asphalt), and carried a $12 sale price. Now see if you can tell which is which. Moral of the story: sometimes it pays to pay a higher price.