Trees you can plant in your yard to fight climate change

It’s become increasingly difficult to ignore the signs of climate change. As gardeners, we’re especially sensitive to the changes in weather patterns. We’re also a group of people who tend to care about our planet and are always looking for ways to give back to a home that gives us so much. So how can you do your part?

Can planting trees fight climate change?

Short answer, yes. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and store it in the soil and in their trunks. This reduces the amount of carbon in the air and, in theory, would lower the impact of humanity’s use of fossil fuels. According to NASA, we’d have to plant 900 million hectares (2.2 billion acres) of forest to reduce carbon in the air by 25 percent. This is a mind-boggling amount that might, at first, seem impossible. However, we don’t need a few people to do everything; we need everyone to do something. So while world leaders argue about the best ways to go about saving Earth, we can start doing our part by planting trees in our yards, farms, land, and businesses.

plant more trees
Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

Which trees should you plant?

It’s not enough to plant whatever tree you think looks nice. It’s vital to the environment that we grow the right kinds of trees. Specifically, we should be planting trees that are native to our areas. These trees are hardy, disease and pest-resistant, and are already used to growing in our area’s conditions. This not only increases the likelihood of the tree’s survival, but it also decreases the amount of work for you!

It’s also important to plant trees at the right time of year to give them their best chance at becoming large, thriving trees. The best time to plant trees in most zones within the United States is between September and November. Additionally, if you can help it, grow a diverse range of trees, which would help reduce the risk of disease and pests.

Here are some of the best trees to plant in the United States to fight off climate change.

American sweetgum

These trees have star-shaped leaves that turn red, purple, or yellow in the fall and hang onto the tree longer than most others. Its fruit is a spike-shaped ball that litters the ground and will quickly take over an abandoned landscape. This is ideal for those looking to plant a tree that will multiply and spread.

Douglas-fir

This is a classic American pine tree and is also the state tree of Oregon. When it’s young, it has a cone shape to its branches, but the shape becomes more like a pyramid as it matures. Its cones smell lovely for decorative baskets within the home. Douglas-firs prefer acidic soil and don’t do well in dry soil.

Quaking aspen

Quaken aspens are a fast-growing tree with breathtaking fall foliage. The leaves turn a bright yellow in the fall for a fantastic display before dropping their leaves. Quaking aspens grow new trees by sending out shoots from their roots, allowing them to populate an area more quickly than their seed-dropping cousins.

Balsam fir

More narrow than the Douglas-fir, Balsams have dark emerald green needles that grow thickly along the tree branches. The tree can grow in several conditions, including swamps, mountainsides, and valleys, but it prefers cold weather and acidic soil.

dogwood tree for your yard
Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

Flowering dogwood

Many homeowners choose the flowering dogwood as an ornamental tree to line down the driveway or drape majestically next to their home. The white or pink flowers of a dogwood bloom between April and May and its red berries provide an excellent food source for birds.

White oak

Everyone loves an old oak tree. While you may not get to enjoy a spectacular and large white oak tree if you plant a seedling, you’re planting something for future generations to enjoy. Connecticut, Illinois, and Maryland have all made the white oak tree their state tree. The white oak’s acorn provides food for a vast range of wildlife and its branches provide shelter for animals and humans alike.

Planting trees isn’t enough

Unfortunately, the one thing scientists can agree on is that planting trees isn’t enough to fight off climate change. It’s crucial that you not only plant these beautiful trees around your home but also reduce the amount of carbon emissions you put into the air. You can also invite pollinators to your yard, feed and house the birds, reduce the amount of gas you use, stop using chemicals in your landscaping and gardening, collect rainwater, compost, plant native plants, and start a victory garden.

You can learn more about these impactful changes here.

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