Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Florida Arbor Day

Florida celebrates Arbor Day the third Friday of January. This year we will be celebrating it on January 16th. We all know of the national Arbor Day that occurs later in the year, but Florida trees need to be protected from the heat during establishment. Therefore Florida celebrates Arbor Day in January, taking advantage of the cooler temps.

Arbor Day reminds us of the importance of trees in our environment. Trees are very important in helping to reduce air pollution, conserve energy, regulate climate and beautify.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide (we've all heard the problems with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and greenhouse gases), and in turn release oxygen into the atmosphere.

They are also very important in regulating rainfall and climate.

So why not do your part and plant a tree or shrub on Florida Arbor Day or Arbor Day weekend? When planting take into consideration:

  • The eventual size of the tree or shrub. Be careful of planting too close to cement or the home or other trees if it will grow to be a large tree.
  • The location: Will it get too much sun or too little? Will it be a large shade tree? If so, be sure to place it where you hope to someday have shade. If it is a shade tree, are there other trees nearby that may suffer in coming years under its shade?
  • Water requirements: Try to go native, or at least plant a tree or shrub that will be drought-resistant. If it needs watering, make sure to plant it near an available water source. Don't plant it in the front yard if there is no hose to water it with!
  • Root aggressiveness: Be wary of root aggressive trees like ficus benjamina, weeping willow, bamboo and Cypress. They can damage concrete, foundations and septic systems. I found a pretty good article from New York about planting around septic systems. Trees with aggressive roots should be carefully placed.
  • Deciduous vs. Evergreen: If you are planting a deciduous tree, you may want to plant it around evergreens, to give it more attractive appeal in winter.
  • Invasive vs. Non-invasive: Avoid planting invasive trees or shrubs, which are harmful to the local environment and native species. Seek out natives or non-invasive species to complement your yard.

If you are, like many of us, working on Arbor Friday, please don't let that stop you. Arbor Day continues through the weekend. Get planning and get planting!

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