From lit­tle things...

Re­stock coun­try­side with na­tive trees to ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment and fauna

Isis Town and Country - - Life - Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email maree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au. with Maree Cur­ran

T OMOR­ROW is Na­tional Tree Day.

The day, co-or­di­nated by Planet Ark, pro­vides on-the-ground sup­port at lo­cal com­mu­nity tree plant­ing sites Aus­tralia-wide. Since the first Na­tional Tree Day in 1996, more than three mil­lion par­tic­i­pants have planted more than 21 mil­lion na­tive trees, shrubs and grasses. What a great ef­fort.

There are plenty of ways you can get in­volved. If you’d like to par­tic­i­pate in an or­gan­ised plant­ing, you can search for a site near you on tree­day.plan­e­tark.org or call the hot­line on 1300 885 000. But you can do your bit by sim­ply plant­ing a na­tive tree or shrub in your own gar­den.

So why are trees so im­por­tant? Trees help com­bat the green­house ef­fect and slow the ef­fects of global warm­ing, soak­ing up car­bon diox­ide and ex­hal­ing oxy­gen for us to breathe. They help pre­vent soil ero­sion and salin­i­sa­tion, as well as im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity by fil­ter­ing out nu­tri­ents and pes­ti­cides. Trees pro­vide food and shel­ter to na­tive wildlife. They also pro­vide shade, and a well-placed tree can help to keep a home or other area cool in sum­mer. On a large scale, tree plant­ing can lower the tem­per­a­ture in built-up ar­eas, re­duc­ing the “heat is­land” ef­fect of in­ten­sive de­vel­op­ment.

There is a large and grow­ing body of re­search that con­firms the ben­e­fits of ac­cess to the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment in child­hood de­vel­op­ment, and in gen­eral health and well­be­ing. Ar­eas with well-main­tained green spa­ces have been shown to have lower crime rates and in­creased prop­erty val­ues.

If you’re go­ing to plant a tree in your gar­den, make sure you’re not plant­ing a prob­lem. Most sub­ur­ban back­yards are too small to ac­com­mo­date a large tree, so find out how big the tree will be when it is fully grown. Plant­ing a tree is a pretty in­ex­pen­sive and quick ac­tiv­ity, but re­mov­ing a large tree that has been planted in the wrong place is def­i­nitely not. Apart from the size of your ma­ture plant, you need to con­sider the po­si­tion. Make sure you choose some­thing that is suit­able, bear­ing in mind the type of soil, amount of sun, ex­tent of pro­tec­tion from wind and salt, and so on. Your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre staff will be able to help you here.

Shrubs, be­cause they are smaller, are much eas­ier to place. There are lots of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of gre­vil­leas, banksias, syzy­giums, and ac­me­nas which grow 1-4m tall, mak­ing them ideal for the home gar­den. There are many, many, other small na­tive plants that are very at­trac­tive and well suited to grow­ing in our gar­dens, in­clud­ing na­tive grasses, ground­cov­ers and climb­ing plants.

Na­tional Tree Day is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with in­creas­ing the stock of na­tive plants be­cause of the need to pro­vide food and habi­tat for na­tive an­i­mal species. But bear in mind that many ex­otic plants are non-in­va­sive and also sup­port na­tive an­i­mals.

PHOTO: JACKF

Na­tive trees come in all shapes and colours like the gre­vil­lea john­sonii.

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