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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Home and garden

In the Garden: Trees give so much, including beauty, clean air, sustenance

While many trees delight us with beautiful springtime blossoms, all trees quietly benefit us in many ways. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
While many trees delight us with beautiful springtime blossoms, all trees quietly benefit us in many ways. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

Have you ever stopped to think about the trees planted in our parks, along city streets and in our backyards? While they are an important aspect of the environment around us, they frequently are relegated to the background as we look past them to other things.

Trees will be in the spotlight on April 28, which is National Arbor Day. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, this special day “celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care.”

There are so many different types of trees around us. Some treat us to beautiful flowers in the spring while others wait until fall to wow us with their amazing foliage. Many trees are desirable for their interesting structure or growth habit, or perhaps their tantalizing seed pods or pinecones. No matter which attributes appeal to you, trees are quietly benefitting us in so many ways.

Think about the hot days of summer when we seek out shady spots in our gardens. Both evergreen and deciduous trees give us comfort and protection from the hot sun. When our homes are shaded, they are cooler as well, which in turn cuts down on the need for fans or air conditioning.

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air – storing it in their leaves, branches and roots – and produce oxygen through photosynthesis. They filter pollutants from the air as well.

The roots of trees help prevent soil erosion and also filter stormwater to keep oils and chemicals from entering our aquifer and nearby rivers and streams. In the fall, the leaves of deciduous trees provide us with free materials for mulching and composting in our gardens.

Birds are very dependent on trees for nesting, places to roost or hide from predators, and for food. I know the waxwings and robins are pretty thankful for the fruits and berries on our crabapple and hawthorn trees each winter and spring. Just the presence of trees will attract birds to the landscape.

I am very appreciative of the bounty from our apple, cherry and plum trees every year, and enjoy sharing the abundance with local food pantries.

Established trees add to the value of our homes as well. If you’ve ever gone to a tree nursery and been interested in purchasing a large-caliper tree, you know firsthand just how much those trees can cost.

Trees can be used to screen unsightly views and to muffle the sounds on busy streets. When closely planted, they also are used to block the wind.

What’s more, trees add a calming, peaceful sense to the landscape. So the next time you’re outside, take a moment to consider all the things trees do for us. Take good care of your trees and look for opportunities to add more of them to your yard, neighborhood and community.

To view this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video, go to my YouTube channel at

Susan Mulvihill is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Pat Munts. Contact her at and follow her on Facebook at

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