Friends of Trees
As a little girl, one of my best friends was actually a tree – an evergreen we called “Old Faithful.” For as long as I remember, he stood out there in the woods across from my house – tall, solid, majestic. At the base of his trunk my friends and I would play for hours. There was even the occasional bird funeral, complete with solemn procession and a little eulogy as our giant comrade presided quietly over the proceedings. On occasion I’d climb up, sit nestled in those big solid limbs and just marvel at nature and all that surrounded us.
So, it’s no surprise to me that trees can be one of our best friends in our effort to be more responsible with our resources. Trees, properly selected and placed, can become effective windbreaks, saving considerably in annual heating costs. Those same trees can provide much needed shade and cooling during the summer months thereby saving you even more money. As these trees and shrubs mature, they continue to provide more energy savings, and also add value to your home.
However, before rushing out and planting a bunch of trees ala Johnny Appleseed, you may want to do a little research. Experts say first you need to learn what windbreaks are most effective for your climate and microclimate. A microclimate is the environment around your home. Once you determine if you live in an area atypical for your region, pinpoint your goals and identify which trees grow well in your climate. For maximum protection, you should plant the windbreak or shade break at a distance of two to five times the mature height of the trees.
The Camas and Washougal area in Clark County, Washington receives more wind because of its proximately to the Columbia River Gorge. Gorge winds tend to be hot and dry during the summer months, cold and wet during the winter. So, if you live in an exposed area in Camas or Washougal, a dense planting of evergreen trees and shrubs would provide some year-round relief from the frequent barrage of winds. That same recipe would also work for providing year round shade. However, if winds aren’t a big factor in your microclimate, you might want to substitute the evergreens for deciduous trees, to allow for some thermal warming during winter months.
Finally, you may be tempted to buy fast growing trees to reap the rewards a bit sooner. Keep in mind that slower growing trees tend to live longer, and develop deeper root systems. That makes them more resistance to breakage during windstorms. Remember, we want to be “friends of trees.” Ask not what your tree can do for you, but what you can do for your tree--to keep it green and healthy for as long as possible. And yes, so it can serve you well too.
The bottom line, trees can not only provide us with wonderful childhood memories, they are also valuable resources to plant and nurture. Let’s be mindful of the many benefits we can reap from our “faithful friends.”
A great local resource in Clark County Washington is Friends of Trees
Debb Dodges Raindrops, Plants Trees and Sells Real Estate in Clark County Washington