The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 2, 2013

Fall into habit of tree-hugging

Why it matters: Replacing trees is key this fall because storms and drought have taken a toll.

Just think back to last week. If you walked or bicycled over from the open, unshaded, steamy side of the street over to the tree-lined canopy side, the difference was noticeable and immediate.

Shade brought relief, even in 100-plus heat index tropical weather.

With fall around the corner, now is the time to think about replacing some of those trees that fell or were damaged in the summer storms, including the June 21 storm that took down numerous trees in North Mankato and Mankato.

In addition to the violent summer storms that have taken their toll, other trees have been struck by drought and diseases that come with it. Fall is the optimum time to replant and not have to worry about watering all winter.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a good source to determine what kind of tree to put where. It’s also important to diversify tree types so that pests or diseases can’t wipe out all of them (think Emerald ash borer or Dutch elm disease).

Replacing all of those fallen trees is not only important to restore the aesthetics to city neighborhoods, but trees have ecological and economic benefits.

Global warming, of course, is expensive with its effects tied to severe weather and energy demands. Trees absorb CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels and then release oxygen into the air. In a year an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles.

And if global consciousness isn’t your style, a mature tree can help block winter’s harsh winds and cool down blistering summer days, saving money on heating and cooling. In big cities, trees can cool cities by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Homeowners can save as much as 50 percent on air-conditioning when trees are strategically planted around a home.

Tree-lined streets are an attractive, energy-wise way to make cities better places to live. Planting a variety of trees ensures that the beauty and all the other benefits will be sustained into the future.

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