2014 National Planting Day

Keep America Beautiful and Keep Manatee Beautiful are asking residents to join us in supporting local ecosystems by planting species native to their area this fall. Manatee County residents can join communities nationwide this Saturday, September 6, for the second annual Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day. National Planting Day celebrates the value and power of native species in restoring ecological balance to the environment while creating greener, more beautiful communities.

This will be a beautiful day to celebrate life by planting trees, especially Florida native trees, in yards at home and by businesses all across the county. Trees are truly beneficial. They help air quality, with their leaves acting as filters of pollutants above the surface. And they help water quality, with their roots acting as filters of pollutants below the surface. In addition, the root systems of mature trees help prevent soil erosion. Trees also cool the air naturally. Homes shaded by trees use less energy for air conditioning, reducing home energy bills by as much as 30%. Carefully landscaped, trees can also increase property values and even speed sales.

Trees are especially helpful because they absorb and hold carbon dioxide both above and below the surface. As part of their daily life cycle, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and give off oxygen. At the same time, within their root systems, they support many microbes which also absorb carbon dioxide. In these days of climate change, trees are truly a gift to future generations.

As in many other counties in Florida, many residents of Manatee County are grandparents. What a beautiful gift it would be for them to plant a tree for each of their grandchildren, and where possible, even involve them in the selection.

Why Plant Natives?
Native species are losing ground to suburbanization, fragmented habitats, ornamental plants and invasive species. Yet we know that natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, which in turn provide food for birds and ultimately many more animals up the food chain. Natives also provide habitat for wildlife. Natives are hardy, low maintenance and require less water than other ornamentals.

Trees native to Manatee County come in many different sizes and shapes, and they have different needs. Before planting a new tree, the homeowner should seek information about which trees will be right for the right place in his yard. Selecting the right tree for the right place will help make this planting a success. This information is readily available from reputable landscape businesses, Keep Manatee Beautiful (www.manateebeautiful.com), the IFAS Extension Office in Palmetto (www.floridayards.org), the Florida Native Plant Society (www.fnps.org), and at American Beauties Native Plants (www.abnativeplants.com).

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