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More trees please

Trees

New Zealand has always been renowned for its trees, both the natives that developed in isolation from most other parts of the world, and the introduced species that do so well in our parks and gardens.

Trees are often described as the lungs of the planet. Without trees, our world wouldn’t function. But trees are also important for many other reasons, such as:.

Trees save on energy use

The US Department of Agriculture claims that: “The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.”

Trees bind the soil together

They reduce runoff, which cuts down on flooding and pollution.

Trees provide homes and food for native birds and animals.

Trees are beautiful

They soften hard lines of houses and urban structures.

Trees improve property value

Some of the most expensive real estate areas are those described as ‘leafy’.

July is a good month to think about planting trees. It’s the month when new deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves in winter, are available for sale. These trees are sold ‘bare-rooted’, which means they have started life in the ground in nursery beds. Eventually, in their winter dormant period, they are dug out, their roots are cleaned of soil and they are shipped to garden retailers around the country. These bare-root trees, which are usually of quite a good size, are then ready to take off in spring. Make sure they’re planted into a well-prepared hole, into which some Magamp or Dynamic Lifter pellets and some organic matter have been incorporated.

Maples, ashes and birches are some of the bare-root suggestions for this time of year. Blossom trees such as crabapples, flowering peaches and plums and, in cold climates, lilacs are also popular because most have a display twice a year, first with the spring blossom and then some autumn colour. The great advantage of deciduous trees is that they allow sun through in winter and provide shade in summer. The autumn leaves are a bonus, too, as they make important additions to the compost heap.

Evergreen trees often do better if they are planted out when they are quite small. Tiny seedling trees take off quickly and will often overtake more established specimens that have been planted at the same time. With only a few exceptions, native trees are evergreen so they will require careful placing in the garden. Some popular natives are lacebark (Hoheria populnea), pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), totara (Podocarpus totara) which grows slowly and can be clipped to shape, and, for smaller gardens, tarata (Pittosporum eugenioides). The beautiful, semi-deciduous, yellow-flowered kowhai is arguably the best known New Zealand tree. It comes in dwarf forms, too, so should find a spot in any garden.

Trees for Survival is a charitable trust that encourages school children to grow and plant native trees. Yates NZ has been involved in Trees for Survival since its inception and over many years has played a pivotal role in providing the essential potting mix that ensures the trees get off to a good start in an ideal growing medium. Visit www.tfsnz.org.nz


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