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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:00 am

Now is a great time to talk about trees and how valuable they are.

Trees bring a true beauty to all landscapes. The right tree in the right place provides shade to your home, creating a cooling insulation from hot summer days.

Fall is the best time to plant trees. Fall’s cooler temperatures and adequate rainfall ease the tree’s transition into its new home and decreases transplant shock and stress.

Are you looking for an excuse to plant a tree? Well look no further, as the following statistics reveal just how important trees are to us in a community setting:

“Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home.” — American Public Power Association.

“If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in five years your energy bills should be 3 percent less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12 percent.” — Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center of Urban Forest Research.

“A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” — Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.

“In one study, 83 percent of realtors believe that mature trees have a strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98 percent” — Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests.

“Trees properly placed around buildings can save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.” — USDA Forest Service.

“Trees can be a stimulus to economic development, attracting new business and tourism. Commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly, tenants stay longer, and space in a wooded setting is more valuable to sell or rent.” — The Arbor Day Foundation.

“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.” — Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University.

“They look pretty.” — Mike Smith (Washington Urban Forestry Council) and Bernie Hillermann (co-founder of Hillermann Nursery & Florist)

So whatever reason you want to use, now is a great time to plant a tree! Start making your memories today.

Check out the tree selection suggested by the Washington Urban Forestry Council by logging onto www.ci.washington.mo.us/, then go to the City Departments/Parks & Recreation Menu to find the WUFC link. Their suggested plant list is on this site.

There are many great varieties to choose from in local garden centers as well. Ask for proper planting instructions as you purchase so you can have guaranteed success.

Here are additional Garden Solutions for October:

Lawn seeding should be finished by Oct. 15 this month to ensure germination and plant growth yet this fall. Choose a seed mix for your specific lawn area: sun, shade, sun/shade, play, drought, etc. Fescue mixtures are best for durability for our area.

Be sure to aerate and renovate your yard when overseeding for best results. Without these steps, it is like throwing grass seed on concrete because our soil is so hard now from such a dry summer.

Keep leaves raked or blown off of lawns to prevent smothering new grass plants, especially in shady areas.

Winterize your lawn-mowers before storage, by draining gasoline from the tank and the gas line. It is also a great time to sharpen the blades so you will be ready for spring!

Put a Winterizer-type fertilizer on all lawns from mid October through November to promote early spring green growth, and have the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood.

Now is a good time to apply lime if your soil tests indicate the need. (Acidic soils require lime, a pH of 6.8 or below.) Use the recommended rate of 50 pounds per 500 square feet per treatment. Free pH testing is available at local nurseries.

Your home’s curb appeal can be enhanced with pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, mums, pansies, kale and the great selection of other fall plants that are grown for the fall season! Ornamental grasses add a lot of texture as well.

Pre-emergent herbicides can be applied to control cool season weeds, such as chickweed and henbit now.

The average first frost usually arrives Oct. 15-20. A few degrees of frost protection can be gained by covering tender plants with sheets, newspaper, burlap or lightweight fabric row covers.

Do not use plastic. This tends to “draw in” the cold temperatures.

Cannas, dahlias and elephant ears can be dug when frost nips their foliage.

Plant bulbs now for spring bloom (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, etc.). Plant bulbs into groupings for a massed effect of spring color. To fertilize them, use bone meal or a complete bulb fertilizer at planting time.

Bulb container gardens can be planted with a lasagna-type planting arrangement (layering of bulbs in potting soil). Check with your garden center for ideas and recipes on this feature.

Continue to water your plants, especially evergreens, since soils are dry. Until the ground freezes, they need moisture for root growth even if they are going dormant. Once a week should be sufficient.

After perennial and flower beds have been cleaned and raked for winter preparation, refresh them with a bark mulch for the winter months at a depth of two to three inches.

Toward the end of October, trees should be fertilized and tree spikes at their drip line are a perfect choice. Use one tree spike per one inch of tree trunk diameter. This will make for beautiful foliage next spring!

Gourds should be harvested when their shells become hard or when their color changes from green to brown.

Don’t take hummingbird feeders down before mid-October. The birds’ biological clock tells them when to migrate south. They are not dependent on us removing the feeders at a certain time! Hummingbirds who have started their migration will appreciate finding your feeders along the way.

/features_people

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