We all know that trees make oxygen, but they do a lot more than just that.
Trees are like giant, sticky sponges. They absorb all kinds of things, from CO2 in the air – to drawing water down into the soil. Their roots form dense networks that allow trees in forests to communicate with each other thousands of miles apart, and they create the nutrients that keep our soils healthy.
In the last two months, the Subpod community has planted over 8,000 trees through our Ecologi program, adding to our total of 23,500 trees planted. We like to think of it as our Subpod Forest!
Those trees are rebuilding mangrove forests in third world countries, restoring the foundations of riverbeds and coastlines. Trees are especially important on coastlines because their tight roots prevent flooding and erosion, and they act as a buffer against large storms, greatly reducing the impact of tsunamis.
But it’s not just coastlines where trees make a difference! All trees stabilise our soils, gluing them together with the carbon sugars their roots excrete and bundling our earth up in their sprawling root balls.
This information might not sound all that relevant to you if you live in a city or the suburbs, but the truth is, growing trees in your garden can have amazing results for both you and the planet.
Why plant more trees?
1. Protect your home
On a cold, miserable day with whistling winds and icy rain, would you rather be standing in a field or a dense forest? Just like tall buildings, trees can act as a buffer against the natural elements.
Planting a good treeline around the border of your property can ease the effects of storms on your home, and make those windy nights much calmer.
2. Stay cool
Planting trees on your property is a great way to lower the temperature of your home in summer. It’s best to plant trees that block sunlight in the warmer months, but still allow the sun to warm your garden during winter. Deciduous trees are a great option for this, just as long as you don’t mind raking leaves.
Shade isn’t just good for keeping you cool, it also works wonders for your lawns. We put mulch on our gardens to protect them from drying out, but we have to water our lawns constantly in summer to keep them fresh and green. With more shade, your lawn is more protected from drying out, and you get to reduce your water consumption!
Watch this video for an excellent breakdown of how to plant trees to cool your home!
3. Trap CO2 pollution
Trees absorb CO2 from the air around them, cleaning up your home and the planet. They take that carbon and turn it into a kind of sugar that they excrete from their roots, which microscopic soil microorganisms feed on.
Those microorganisms then breed and die, decaying into what we know of as humus – a very rich type of soil that has stable carbon chains. This process not only traps the carbon your trees pull from the air into the soil for good, it also slowly enriches the soil on your property over time!
4. Make fresh soil for fresher lawns
Soil is made up of 4 things: water, air, minerals and organic matter. Organic matter is every living (worms, plants, beetles, microbes) and dead or decaying (worms, plants, beetles, microbes) thing in the soil, and it’s the most important part.
Plant roots (both living and decaying) make up the majority of organic matter, and when those roots die back, they feed the soil. This is why after giving your trees a prune, some excess roots will die, resulting in higher organic matter in the soil… and a flush of growth from the trees! Trees actually create the conditions needed for them to grow in the soil they’re planted in.
All this is great for your property, because healthy soils mean fewer pests, less disease, easier gardening and greener lawns.
5. No more gumboots!
Does your garden clog up with pools of water every time it rains? When soils start to dry up, they become hydrophobic and actually repel water. You might have seen this happen when you water houseplants – the water will pool on the top for a long time before sinking in.
By growing trees, you’ll enrich the soil in your garden and nurse it back to health. Healthy soils absorb more water, leading to better overall plant and grass growth, and less need for gumboots!
6. Free mulch
There’s nothing better than free mulch, and if you grow deciduous trees on your property, you’ll be rewarded with piles of it every autumn.
It’s best to shred the leaves first, and a simple leaf blower with a vacuum setting will do the trick. One they’re shredded, just layer a nice even spread over your beds and store the rest in a pile for later. Leaves are also a great source of carbon for a compost pile or a Subpod.
7. Enjoy your native wildlife
There’s nothing more relaxing than waking up to birdsong, or watching little critters scamper between branches.
Of course, there can be pros and cons to making room for the native wildlife on your property, but we like to think the benefits are worth it. Birds, for example, help plants grow by spreading their seeds through their droppings.
8. Reduce your bills
This is a big one. Enjoying serene greenery and watching the birds outside your window is lovely, but nothing soothes the nerves quite like smaller bills.
Because trees are so energy efficient in summer, providing shade with their canopy and creating cooler air through a process known as evapotranspiration (say that 3 times fast!) they can drastically reduce your reliance on air conditioning. The same goes for winter, when your trees deflect those icy winds and drop their leaves to let the sunshine in.
There are even more reasons to consider planting trees at home, like the benefits of fruit trees and beautiful flowering varieties. Why not take a walk and start dreaming up the perfect spot for a swing, or a beautiful apple tree?