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Gardening with Laurie: Trees good for more than just shade

By By Laurie Garretson
Aug. 8, 2013 at 3:08 a.m.

Laurie Garreston

Working in the garden every day as I do can be a bit hard this time of year. The August sun can quickly drain you. It really takes much of the pleasure out of gardening. This is how I realized the importance of having trees in the landscape.

Looking back on my childhood, I remember a certain pecan tree that at that time was about 50 years old. My brothers and I played under that old tree for many years.

It was there for my mother as she grew up and still there helping to keep the yard cool for her children. Of course, it also provided lots of soft shell nuts for us and all the squirrels. That tree spoiled me. Even to this day, I feel much more "at home" in a landscape that has lots of trees.

Trees do so much for us that many of us take for granted. Besides raising the property value of a home by about 20 percent and reducing our electric bills by providing our homes and businesses with shade, trees also help us by absorbing carbon dioxide.

Trees will absorb odors and different polluted gases in the air and provide oxygen. Planted in areas with lots of concrete and brick, like in big cities, shade trees help cool the streets.

Trees help with erosion control. Shade from trees slows the water evaporation loss from our lawns and gardens. Planted in school yards and playground areas, shade trees reduce the amount of cancer-causing UV rays from our children.

So I guess you get my message. Trees are very important to our planet and to us. We need to take care of the trees. If you don't have any trees, maybe you should consider planting one or more of them on your property. Like the old saying goes, "The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is today."

Keep any trees that you have well watered and fed occasionally. Keep string trimmers away from all tree trunks. I so often hear about damage done to trees by someone using a weedeater around the trunk trying to mow down weeds.

Beneath the bark of a tree is the cambium layer. Within this layer is where the tree transports nutrients and water up and down the trunk. This area in the tree trunk is vital for the life of the tree.

When a cut into this area is made around the tree trunk it will prevent the flow of all moisture and nutrients. This usually means death for the tree.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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