Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Need A Big Tree?

For six seasons, Baltimore County has held a Big Trees sale in an effort to put big, native trees in Maryland backyards. Since its inception in 2009, the program has sold more than 750 trees to Maryland residents, augmenting the state’s existing forests and moving Baltimore County closer to its pollution reduction goals.

Big trees are integral to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Forests clean polluted air and water and offer food, shelter and rest stops to a range of wildlife.

But big trees can be hard to find. To provide homeowners with the native trees that have high habitat value and the heft that is needed to trap polluted runoff, species like pin oak, sugar maple and pitch pine are grown in a Middle River, Md., reforestation nursery. The one-acre nursery, managed by Baltimore County’s Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS), began as a staging ground for large-scale plantings but soon expanded to meet a noticeable residential need...

Out of the 12 tree species that are up for sale, oaks remain the favorite.

Whether red, black, white or pin, oaks are often celebrated as the best big tree. Oaks thrive in a range of soils, drop acorns that feed squirrels, woodpeckers and raccoons and create a home for thousands of insects.
We have so many acorns on the ground now, it's like walking on ball bearings.

Discussing the oak, Moore mentions University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy. The entomologist once wrote that a single oak tree can support more than 500 species of caterpillars, which will in turn feed countless insect-loving animals.

But can one big tree make a difference for the Bay? Moore nodded: “Every little bit helps.”
Speaking of big oaks, a big oak that that has been dead for a few years finally fell in our side yard, while we were off in Italy.  It demolished our backyard dog fence in two places. Fortunately, or not, we no longer need the fence, since Skye never goes down stairs to get out anymore (her arthritic hips have her leery of stairs).

After I get rid of the debris (it's pretty rotten), I'll have to evaluate the area and see if we need to plant a big tree to fill in, or if the existing trees in the vicinity look like they are capable of filling in the canopy.

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