Create beautiful landscapes with native trees

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By Susan McMann

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

Home gardeners love to create beautiful landscapes. In fact, home gardeners love to create landscapes full of color, variety and texture. In the past couple of decades, interest in growing beautiful ornamental trees was the norm. But nobody was thinking about whether the trees were native. Consequently, many of them used in our landscapes are of foreign origin, such as Europe or Asia.

When trees are not native, they are not part of the normal ecosystem. Each plant and animal has a part in the ecosystem in which we live. Native trees in the home landscape can create a great habitat for our native insects and bird species. Native trees provide the best quality resources to preserve native bird, butterfly, bee and other wildlife species.

Here are some other great reasons to plant a native tree or two in your landscape this fall:

Increased property values: Properly cared for, trees are valuable assets for homeowners that increase property values and the aesthetics of the home.

Energy savings: Strategically placed trees save up to 56 percent on annual air-conditioning costs. Evergreens that block winter winds can save even more.

Intercepting storm water: Trees can be planted in “rain gardens” with the goal of intercepting storm water. One hundred mature trees catch more than 100,000 gallons of rainwater per year. By intercepting storm water, less contaminates get carried into fresh waterways.

Clean air: Planting trees can help clean the air we breathe, by removing pollutants. In fact, 100 trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants per year. This can help counter the carbon element that contributes to global warming. Further, removing pollutants from the air can help decrease the triggers that cause respiratory problems such as asthma.

Horticultural therapy: Yes, even human health is affected by trees. A study by Roger Ulrich of hospitalized patients shows that post-op patients, with views of trees from their hospital rooms, heal faster and use less pain medication.

Healthy communities: Some research suggests that tree-filled neighborhoods lower levels of domestic violence and are safer. There is some research that argues that access to nature and green space may help those in low-income communities who suffer from unequal access to many services.

Overall, native trees suit today’s interest in low-maintenance landscaping. At the same time, they attract and sustain our beautiful, and often charismatic, native wildlife that we are fortunate to have here in Northeast Ohio.

Visit for more information and a list of native Ohio trees.

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