How do trees tame stormwater?

Trees are some of the hardest-working plants on your property. A medium-sized tree can capture as much as 2,300 gallons of rainfall every year!  Tree roots help stormwater soak into the ground, leading to less water ponding on your lawn, a replenished groundwater supply that feeds many streams, and less runoff that can cause streams to flood and streambanks to erode.


What other benefits do trees provide?

Trees improve air quality, reduce hot temperatures in summer, increase your property value, provide habitat for wildlife, and add recreation and aesthetic value.

Trees are particularly important along our waterways and streams as their root systems provide stability to stream banks and minimize erosion concerns.


What trees grow well in wet areas?

  • Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) - This tree does well in wet woods and wetlands and is tolerant of poor drainage as well as drought conditions. It thrives in full sun to partial sun but is shade tolerant during its youth. These trees grow about a foot a year and reach a height of 50 to 60 feet and a spread of 60 feet. Space oak saplings 30 to 40 feet apart to accommodate their spread.
  • River birch (Betula nigra) - This tree does well in wet, rich, deep soils and grows in full to partial sun. This tree grows rapidly and may grow to a height of 50 feet and a spread of 40 feet.
  • Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) - Sycamores reach a mature height of 80 feet and a spread of 60 feet. They do well in full to partial sun and in wet, well-drained to moderately drained soils such as in wet areas of woodlands.
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) – This tree prefers moist to occasionally wet, rich soils. It has a mature height and spread of 30 feet. It prefers full sun to partial sun.
  • Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) – This tree prefers deep, moist soils that range from poorly drained to well-drained. It can handle shade in its youth but needs full sun at maturity. It has virtually no disease or pest problems and is rapidly growing. Its mature height is 70 feet and its spread is 35 feet


What is the best way to plant a tree?

  1. Consider planting the tree saplings during their fall dormancy so they will expend their energy on their roots, rather than foliage production. The cooler temperatures and regular rainfall during this time of year will also help reduce stress on the trees.
  2. Dig your hole approximately ½ inch shallower than the depth of the soil in your tree’s nursery pot and make the hole approximately three times the container’s width at the soil line. Be sure to loosen any entangled roots. Center the tree in the hole.
  3. Backfill the hole with the same soil you removed, break up any large clods, and gently tamp the soil to remove air pockets as you work. The leftover soil can be used to build a small 2 – 3-inch mound around the edge of the planting hole to direct moisture to the root balls.
  4. After planting and watering, consider adding a 2 – 4-inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips to help retain moisture, boost soil nutrients, and discourage weed growth. Be sure to keep the base of the tree, including the root flares, exposed and clear of mulch and soil. This prevents moisture from building up along the root collar and causing decay and ultimate decline of the tree.


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