By Heather Kirk-Ballard
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
The last Friday of April is when our nation collectively celebrates arbor day. This weekend is a great time to plant a new tree in your home landscape. Need some convincing?
Here are some benefits of trees:
Trees produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis and it is essential for all living organisms to breathe and survive.
Trees help to absorb harmful pollutants from the air, such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which can help to reduce air pollution.
Trees provide shade, which can help to lower temperatures in urban areas and reduce energy consumption for air conditioning.
Trees help to prevent soil erosion by stabilizing the soil with their roots, which can help to reduce the risk of landslides and flooding.
Trees provide habitat for wildlife, including birds, insects and mammals, which can help to promote biodiversity and ecosystem health.
Trees can help to reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound waves and providing a natural sound barrier.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it to produce energy and organic matter. The carbon from the carbon dioxide is stored in the tree’s trunk, branches, leaves and roots as organic carbon. This process of carbon storage is also known as carbon sequestration.
Trees can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being, as studies have shown that exposure to nature can reduce stress and improve mood.
Trees are a part of a healthy and sustainable landscape. With environmental stewardship in mind, we can create and support a sustainable landscape that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also is beneficial for the environment. Sustainable landscapes can help reduce pollution, conserve water and supply habitat for wildlife. Here are some tips on how to create and maintain a sustainable landscape that benefits the environment.
Choose Native and Adapted Plants
When selecting plants for your landscape, choose native plants. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and require less maintenance than exotic plants. They also provide habitat for local wildlife and promote biodiversity. Additionally, native plants are usually drought-resistant and require less water, reducing the need for irrigation.
Water conservation is a critical aspect of sustainable landscaping. You can conserve water by planting drought-resistant plants, grouping plants with similar watering needs, and installing a drip irrigation system. You can also capture rainwater using rain barrels and use it to water your landscape.
Use Organic Practices
Avoid using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in your landscape. These chemicals can be harmful to wildlife and contribute to pollution. Instead, use organic practices such as composting and natural pest control methods. Composting is an excellent way to reduce waste and supply nutrients to your plants. Natural pest control methods include introducing beneficial insects that prey on pests and using physical barriers to keep pests away.
Reduce Lawn Size
Lawns need a lot of maintenance, including watering, mowing and fertilizing. By reducing the size of your lawn, you can save water and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Consider replacing your lawn with native plants, ground covers or a vegetable garden.
Managing stormwater is an essential aspect of sustainable landscaping. You can manage stormwater by installing a rain garden or bioswale. These features allow stormwater to infiltrate into the soil, reducing the amount of runoff that can cause erosion and pollution.
Maintain Your Landscape
Proper maintenance is essential to the longevity of your sustainable landscape. This includes regular pruning, mulching, and removing weeds. Regular maintenance can help prevent pest and disease problems and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
Creating and maintaining a sustainable landscape is essential for the environment and any small changes to our home landscapes can have great benefits to our communities as a whole. By choosing native plants, conserving water, using organic practices, reducing lawn size, managing stormwater, and maintaining your landscape, you can create a beautiful and sustainable landscape that benefits both you and the environment.