Trees are finding new uses in many yards, where they are helpful in reducing the impact of hot summer weather. The temperature in the shade of a tree is usually about 10 degrees cooler during a 90 degree day. This effect comes not only from the blocked sunlight, but also from the transpiration of the tree. Unfortunately, trees and grass don't always get along
. In a dense forest, trees naturally crowd out grass by blocking the light. In an open plain, grass normally chokes out young trees and grassfires burn out the trees that get established. There are only a few areas that trees and grass co-exist, and there are important lessons that can be drawn from studying these areas. Trees and grass co-exist in boundary areas, such as forest clearings, the banks of a river, and rock outcroppings.
There are 10-20 biomes found in North America
(depending on how they're defined). Species that are native to your area are acclimated to the conditions your yard experiences, and choosing from those species is a good place to start. For the healthiest trees and lawns, it's important to respect the different needs of all the plants in your yard. Many trees have shallow roots that need protection from competition, while grasses often need direct sunlight for maximum health. The boundaries of biomes are often where unusual plant companions are found. Some plants work together to repel pests and exploit different nutrients from the soil - these companion plants enjoy a greater degree of health than either plant would on their own. Other plants release chemicals that kill off competition (ie; walnut trees release juglone, which kills plants like tomatoes).
On one hand, trees and grass offer some of the same benefits. They both convert CO2 into oxygen and cool the air by releasing water vapor. They both shade the ground, stabilize dust, prevent erosion, control water runoff, stabilize dust, and trap pollution. On the other hand, they require different amounts of water, different soil acidity, different ratios of nutrients, and are susceptible to different insects and diseases. Trees also cut air conditioning costs, act as sound barriers, and protect from strong winds. Properly placed < a href="http://www.sellyourhomein30days.com/touch-up-the-outside-of-your-home-for-maximum-returns-04/">trees can even increase your property value by 10-15%. It's important to understand that your yard is a whole growing area and that your plants will grow best when they are compatible with the soil, climate, and each other.
One thing that is often done to help lawns and trees coexist is to use a seed mix that contains both sun loving and shade tolerant grass. A typical mix is Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and annual ryegrass. This can be helpful because all three seeds can grow in the 6 to 7 pH range and the shade tolerant grass can eke out an existence under a large tree.
If you live in a home built in the last 50 years, chances are that all of the topsoil and natural humus was hauled away during construction. What does that mean for your garden? It means that you are left with dead dirt - you must start from scratch to breathe life into it. The way to do that isn't by adding lifeless chemicals. Instead, you should add humus, bacteria, fungus, earthworms, and mulch to the soil. The ecosystem underground forms a foundation for your lawn. If the ground is full of life, then your yard will be vibrant too.
Whether your soil is sandy, full of clay, or rich with silt, it can probably be improved by adding compost. Compost is made from decomposed food scraps, lawn clippings, and fallen leaves. Compost is light, fluffy, and full of microscopic life
. Since it's made from a variety of decayed organic ingredients, compost has plenty of nutrients in just the right proportions that plants need. It also has lots of air pockets that allow compost to retain moisture and provide air flow. Loosely compacted compost is key to creating good soil structure, because it gives roots an opportunity to spread out. Compost also introduces many aerobic bacteria to the soil that help capture nitrogen from the air. This process will provide a continuous stream of fertilization directly to plant's roots. The cost of commercial compost can add up (and the ingredients can be less than ideal), but homemade compost is easy to make from 'worthless' scraps
Compost has a pH very close to 7.0 (neutral), and adding it to your soil is a great way to bring everything into balance. If your soil is really acidic or excessively alkaline, you may need further soil amendments. Before making any adjustments, start by testing the soil's pH. A re-usable electronic probe is the best method to test pH
, although there are also complicated chemical kits and diagnosis-by-mail services available. Correcting the soil pH is possible
, but it should be done gradually and may take several seasons. If your soil is too acidic, you may need to adjust it by adding alkaline ingredients, such as crushed limestone, hardwood ash, bone meal, crushed marble, or ground-up oyster shells. To get the opposite effect, use acidic ingredients such as sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, or peat moss. Wood ash also has a high pH, but be careful to avoid any wood with paint, laminate, or other chemicals.
Healthy grass, trees, and other plants have healthy root systems. Healthy root systems are the most interesting and misunderstood part of plant life. Roots systems rely on fungal root systems, called mycorrhizae, that attach themselves to the root hairs and significantly increase the absorption area of a root system. This fungal root system uses a small amount of the plant's energy, but absorbs microelements that would otherwise be unavailable to the plant. The fungus is delicate and can be easily killed by chemicals or even tilling of the soil. Luckily, it grows back quickly, and there are natural products that can help restore Mycorrhizal fungus
If you're planting new trees in your yard, make sure to choose native species that are adapted to the climate and pH of the soil. Avoid trees that have been "topped" - this process weakens the tree and disrupts its natural growth pattern. Place the trees strategically
for maximum shade benefit, and avoid planting over utility pipes, near sidewalks, or under electrical lines. Years down the road, the trees will grow into their surroundings, and can disrupt these fixed objects.
If you already have trees in place in your yard, it's often more cost effective to work with those trees than dig them up and replant. When dealing with mature trees, it's important to avoid disrupting the root system and do only minimal amounts of pruning. Digging up roots can severely disrupt the tree's health, and should be avoided. Planting grass sod ontop of the roots can also cause problems by smothering them. One of the most helpful things you can do for an old tree is to put 3 inches of partially decomposed mulch over the root area. It's tempting to pile the mulch up against the tree trunk, but mulch volcanoes can actually harm trees
by attracting mice and boring insects. Also, let your tree grow a little wild. Trees store carbohydrates in their branches just like animals store energy in fat. Pruning creates a situation where the trees have fewer reserves to use when fighting off infection or injury. Pruning also creates open wounds that can attract insects and bacteria.
By pruning trees a minimal amount and following other steps to achieve healthy soil, optimal placement, and sustainable growth, your trees will really thrive. If all of the steps seem a bit daunting, it's easy to adapt just a few organic treatments as the opportunities present themselves. Every little bit helps, and many of these steps will reinforce each other to boost the health of your trees.