There is something almost universal about our relationship with trees. They soak up pollutants and moderate the water cycle. Absorbing large quantities of water to releasing this vital substance in a controlled manner benefiting all around them. Trees are psychologically soothing and physically offer shade and protection. Tree transpiration helps to cool the area under the tree in part because of the evaporation of water. Trees moderate the climate add visual variety to the area.
Native Trees in Georgia
But what manner of tree? Well our own native species offer a divergent collection to choose from. A plus is that trees, even a single native plant provides an ecological environment for local wildlife that has evolved in the same habitat as the tree. Foreign species don’t have the ecological attachment with the local wildlife, and many plant species, grasses, flowers and bushes can co-exist in harmony. Birds, insects, reptiles and mammals all have an affinity for their local flora, bushes and trees. Trees that bloom add rich hues and variety in the spring.
Each variety has its own characteristics. Hardwoods tend to be deciduous, meaning they go dormant in the winter and reach their full vigor in the summer. Evergreens, the pines, firs and spruce tend to be softwoods and grow the year round. Generally, softwoods are bit less disease and insect tolerant, but comprise the most abundant biomass in our forests. These woods are of commercial importance providing most of our construction materials. Fast growing a pine forest cab renew itself in 10 years or so.
Shade, Privacy, Fast Growing Trees & More
Another consideration is application. Some trees lend themselves to shade while others are ideal as wind breaks and privacy screening. Many produce nuts or fruits that are edible. Cypress and pines tend to make good border trees, and if you wish for scent and shade consider the Eastern Red Cedar. Some trees are shade tolerant thriving in areas of subdued sunlight. Other crave the full sun and only do well out in the open. Many trees are low pH loving and thus thrive in acidic soils, some are tolerant of heat and drought, but thrive when wet.
Foreign Tree Species
By using local tree species, we reinforce the natural ecological environment. However, the introduction of aggressive foreign trees and plants can spell ecological disaster. Georgia’s habitats are suffering from an onslaught of invasive species. Autumn Olive, Chinese Privet, Kudzu, Tallow tree and Cogongrass to mention a few.
With no natural enemies the plants continue to expand their territories at the expense of local flora. They outcompete our native plants, and destroy them by conquering the habit leeching water and minerals needed by our local tree and plant varieties. By planting our local varieties, we preserve our natural heritage. Landscaping with local flora is a win-win situation, as it makes the surrounding area more natural and promotes the natural local biodiversity. Another point is that many imported plant varieties are prone to be irritating allergens much more than the primary local species.