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Nature

Learning to Grow in St. Charles: Why you should be a tree hugger

There is no debate as to the beauty of trees, but there also are many other benefits to planting and preserving them.

It takes years for a newly planted tree to provide the full advantages, but even a young tree has something to contribute.

Here are just a few of the many great things that trees do for us.

Among the greatest contributors to the beauty of our Midwestern landscape, trees have an enduring quality that often remains generation after generation. Deciduous trees bring us the first sign of spring color in the form of green leaf buds or flowers and, in fall, some cap the season with a burst of bright red, gold and orange leaves. Evergreens provide year-round enjoyment and are especially gorgeous when snow-covered or adorned with lights for Christmas.

Trees also provide protection from predators and food for birds and wildlife. Even the smallest flowering tree can provide pollen and nectar for bees and other insects.

Tree roots help to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. Leaves collect rainwater and channel it to the soil, reducing water that flows into storm sewers.

Trees save us money by shading buildings and reducing air-conditioning costs. They serve as shields against damaging winds and reduce heating costs. Trees in a neighborhood increase property values.

Having trees around us is good for our health, as well. Trees trap fine particles in the air that cause pollution. The presence of trees encourages us to get outside and be active. Not to mention, they provide shelter from the sun and a nice cool place to sit when it is hot outside.

We can do our part to preserve these benefits for our community by planting new trees and preserving those large trees that are working hard for us now.

Check with the Master Gardener Help Desk if you have questions about the care and planting of trees in your yard.

Master gardener volunteers are at the Help Desk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 630-584-6166, email questions to uiemg-kane@illinois.edu or stop by the office at 535 S. Randall Road in St. Charles. They also can advise you on native trees that are more likely to thrive in our climate.

Oh, and don’t forget to give your trees a big thank you hug.

Darlie Simerson is a University of Illinois Extension master gardener for Kane County. The “Learning to Grow” column runs weekly during warmer months of the year. Call the extension office at 630-584-6166 for more information. Feedback on this column can be sent to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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