Q: What can an individual do about global warming?
F. G. of Belleville
A: What a great question! For starters, plant more trees. Deciduous trees take in carbon dioxide from the air, so not as much heat is trapped. Protect and help the trees you already have growing. This means protecting the area under the tree and out past the dripline of the trees. The tree actually acts like an umbrella with the leaves directing the raindrops to the outside of the tree’s canopy. This area is the most important for the health of the tree.
Reduce the amount of lawn areas. Consider all the costs of fertilizers, pesticides and gasoline used in the maintenance of the lawn and the amount of heat produced in keeping up the lawn. The lawn could be considered a “green desert.” The lawn is a monoculture, not helping with the other areas of life such as pollinators, increase of earthworms, or other types of life as compared to what diversity of plants would sustain.
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Consider planting only native plants that do not grow out of control and become expensive to eradicate. Honeysuckle bush and vine can be found growing out of control in almost every forest in our area.
Reduce the hardscaped areas that hold heat — sidewalks, driveways, parking lots that also do not allow rainfall to soak into the soil to keep the environment cooler.
Plant trees and shrubs in the fall of the year for more success. They will require less water to maintain.
Q: I live on a lake, close to the water. We are having problems with trees that are near the lake. A lovely cluster of sassafras died already, first on the lake side, but a year later, the whole group. And two flowering crabs wilted all last summer and more this spring. Our neighbors have lost a larger tree near the lake. Could there be a problem with herbicides that could easily wash into the lake upstream from residential lawns and farms? Is a test possible?
M.O. of Glen Carbon
A: Your question has many variables to consider, such as the size of the lake and volume of water, how close the trees are to the edge of the water, and the use of pesticides. We have experienced a severe drought the past few years with one extreme summer. Some foresters say we are just past the high mark for the death of trees caused by the drought. Last year was extremely wet, which could cause a rise in the water level in the lake that covered many root hairs near the edge of the lake. These two extremes could be a major cause of tree deaths.
Your question also raises the issues of pesticide runoffs and how much could be added to the lake water. You can start by checking the amount of water weeds near the edge and sides of the lake. If you do notice any weed growth on the surface of the lake or just below the water line, pesticides are not the problem.
If there are a number of homes located around the lake, you might want to exchange information about pesticides used. There is no one test for the overall amounts of pesticides used, but several tests may be necessary to check for each named pesticide. This could be a costly investigation.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.
Do it now
- Check the iris for iris borer. If you have them, use an insecticide and add a tablespoon of Elmer’s Glue to help it adhere to the foliage. Add bone meal when the iris is finished blooming.
- Continue planting warm vegetable seeds and plants.