"All plants are not created equal, particularly in their ability to support wildlife. Most of our native plant eaters are not able to eat alien plants. … Unless we restore native plants to our suburban ecosystems, the future of biodiversity in the United States is dim."

— Doug Tallamy

Arbor Day month

Although, hopefully, everyone appreciates trees year-round, April is the month many communities in Pennsylvania formally honor them. They have an Arbor Day Tree party for residents, students, local and county officials. Often the main feature of the party is celebrating a special tree or planting a tree in a special place.

This year, Arbor Day is the 26th of April. The idea is to remind us all about how critically important trees are to our survival in this world. Hosting wildlife that then helps us grow food, sheltering us from weather, protecting our soil and cleaning our air are only some of their services. As the damage of modern industrial life to our quality of life becomes increasingly obvious, more and more research reveals just how critically important trees are.

There are lots of reasons for honoring the trees we have and for planting as many as we can.

All about Trees

• Healthy, mature trees add about 10 percent to the value of your property.

• A mature deciduous tree intercepts from 500 to 700 gallons of water from rainfall each year to reduce flooding and runoff in your yard.

• A large, healthy tree has a cooling effect equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

• A 70-year-old tree releases over 3 tons of stored carbon into the atmosphere when it dies or is cut down.

• The shade and wind buffering provided by trees reduces annual heating and cooling costs by $2.1 billion.

• Each average-sized tree provides annual environmental benefits, including energy conservation and reduced pollution.

• A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. Two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.

• In one year, a mature tree can absorb as much carbon dioxide as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles. Over the course its life, a single tree can absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide.

• One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and releases 4 tons of oxygen — enough to support 18 people for a year.

• An average American uses about 750 pounds of paper every year, and 95 percent of homes are built using wood. That means each person uses the equivalent of one 100-foot-tall, 16-inch diameter tree every year for their paper and wood product needs.

• The average tree in an urban/city area has a life expectancy of only eight years.

Bird breeding

What would our local birds do without trees and shrubs to provide nesting sites for them this time of year?

Take this quiz and keep an eye out for nesting birds in your yard.

1. brood 

2. nestling 

3. clutch 

4. yearling 

5. fledgling 

6. juvenile

a. bird at least one year old

b. set of eggs incubating at same time

c. young bird ready to fly

d. young bird not sexually mature yet

e. group of baby birds

f. baby bird too young to leave the nest

Houseplant drip

When houseplants are overwatered or endure high humidity, they get rid of the excess moisture by transpiration, sort of like sweating, at night. Their leaves form little droplets of water at their tips. This is harmless, but it is a signal that you might reduce watering.

Quiz answers: 1-e; 2-f; 3-b; 4-a; 5-c; 6-d.

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

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