4 tips for planting trees
(Family Features) Trees are virtually everywhere you turn, from your own backyard to nearby parks and forests where you enjoy hiking. They provide shade and beauty, and some even bear fruit. Beyond all the immediate benefits, you may be surprised to discover trees are also a critical key to the future.
These facts and tips from the book “Now is the Time for Trees” offer practical insight on the importance of trees and how to nurture one from selection to planting and beyond.
A compelling and ever-growing body of evidence generated by scientists, health care professionals, conservationists, humanitarians and both public and private corporations supports the critical importance of trees and their impact on the human condition. Trees filter pollutants out of the air and water and provide protection for people and communities from dangerous heat and flooding. They lower urban temperatures, reduce energy bills and sequester carbon to slow the rate of climate change.
When you plant a tree in your yard or neighborhood, that tree goes to work filtering out pollutants, intercepting stormwater and capturing carbon. With proper placement, that tree can also help lower household energy use by as much as 20%.
You can engage in the tree planting movement and make a difference by planting trees around your home and surrounding community with these tips.
Consider the Growing Region
Choosing a tree that will flourish in your growing region is fundamental to becoming a successful tree planter. Start by getting familiar with the growing conditions of your planting site, including factors like sunlight, soil condition and room to grow.
The amount of available sunlight at your planting location will determine which tree species will be successful. Most trees require full sunlight for proper growth and flowering. Some do well in (or even prefer) partial or light shade, but few perform well in dense shade.
Before you plant, get your soil tested by a lab to evaluate what’s happening underground. Test results, which are usually returned in a couple of weeks, provide a complete analysis of nutrients, possible contamination and pH (alkalinity or acidity), as well as directions for correcting problems.
Be conscious of overhead or underground utilities, pavement, buildings, other trees, traffic intersections and other factors that may impact your planting space.
Shopping for a Tree
When choosing which kind of tree to plant, be conscious of details like size, flowering, color (including how colors may vary through the seasons) and your view from inside the house. While shopping, you can rely on plant labels to learn details about a tree’s growth pattern, sun requirements, watering needs and soil requirements.
Two common styles of trees are container-grown trees, which spend their entire nursery lives growing in a container, and ball-and-burlap trees, which grow in the ground until they achieve a targeted size.
A well-tended container-grown tree has been carefully monitored and moved into larger containers as the plant grows. Be wary of a tree with roots that circle or twist within the container, which may cause roots to die. For a ball-and-burlap tree, look for a firm, securely tied root ball that is large enough to support the mature tree; it should be about 10-12 inches wide for every inch of trunk diameter.
Prepare Your Planting Site
Properly preparing your planting site is one of the best things you can do to get your tree off to a strong start. Before you plant, make sure your tree is thoroughly hydrated by watering the container or root ball several hours before proceeding. When planting a tree into a lawn, remove a circle of grass at least 3 feet in diameter where the tree will go to reduce competition between turf and fine tree roots.
Dig a broad, shallow planting hole with gently sloping sides 3-4 times wider than the diameter of the root mass and the same depth. Mound removed soil on a tarp for easy backfilling. Loosening the soil on the sides of the hole allows roots to easily expand and establish faster, but don’t disturb soil at the bottom of the hole.
Once the tree is positioned, replace the soil while firmly but gently tamping the original soil around the base of the root ball to stabilize it. Create a water-holding basin around the tree by building up a ring of soil and water to settle roots. Spread protective mulch 2-4 inches deep in a 3-foot diameter around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.
Find more tips to successfully plant and care for your trees at arborday.org.
A Handy Guide for Planting Trees
A rally cry against climate change, “Now is the Time for Trees” is an inspirational and informative guide that explains the important role trees can play in preserving the environment.
Author Dan Lambe, CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation, offers compelling reasons to plant more trees while providing simple, actionable steps to get involved, choose the right tree and achieve planting success. For each book sold, the foundation will plant a tree in a forest in need.
Pick up a copy wherever books are sold or visit arborday.org/TimeforTreesBook.
The Power of Trees
From backyards to tropical rain forests, trees provide the necessities of life. Trees clean air and water, provide habitats for wildlife, connect communities and support human health.
- Trees are a proven affordable, natural way to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
- Trees filter water and slow storm surge and flooding in cities.
- Trees provide shade, cooling cities by up to 10 degrees, which can help prevent heat-related deaths.
- Neighborhood trees can reduce stress, improve overall health in children and encourage physical activity.
- Trees support wildlife and aquatic life by providing habitats and helping keep waterways healthy, which ensures ecosystem balance and promotes biodiversity.
- Trees and other forest life work together to ensure a clean source of drinking water, buffer against extreme weather, provide medicines, offer outdoor recreation and enrich human culture.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Arbor Day Foundation
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
(BPT) – Food and gas prices continue to rise, on top of record-high housing costs in many cities across the U.S. If you’re an older adult who is already living on a tight budget, today’s inflation can be particularly difficult. Fortunately, there are programs available that can help you save money on health care, prescriptions, food, utilities and more.
One of the easiest ways to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is to visit the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp.org. The free and confidential tool connects older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers to benefit programs. The site is easy to use, even for people with minimal digital experience.
“It only takes a few minutes to learn about all the programs available and how to apply,” said Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of NCOA. “For example, there are Medicare programs that can boost your budget by helping with prescription drug costs, as well as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.”
There are thousands of programs on BenefitsCheckUp, including:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help you pay for healthy food
- The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help people with Medicare afford their out-of-pocket health care expenses
- The Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Programs, which can help with housing costs
- Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash for basic needs
- The Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet services
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help you pay for home heating and cooling
Millions of older adults are eligible for, but not enrolled in these programs. In fact, NCOA estimates that $30 billion in benefits go unused each year simply because older adults don’t know about these programs — or how to apply.
BenefitsCheckUp.org will give you a personalized list of benefits you may be eligible for and the steps you need to apply, including links to the correct government agencies and applications. Just a few minutes could save you money every month.
Helping teens develop financial literacy
(Family Features) Developing financial knowledge and effective money management habits are important stepping stones for teenagers to become financially stable adults who aspire to build assets and achieve personal goals.
For example, most teens (88%) would like to own a home someday, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and Fannie Mae. The survey of 1,000 teens ages 13-17 in the United States found most (85%) believe “owning a home” is part of “the good life,” compared to nearly as many adults (87%). However, fewer than half (45%) could correctly identify the definition of a home mortgage and 76% said they lacked clear understanding of credit scores.
“There’s been this theme that younger Americans aren’t interested in homeownership, but the results of this survey contradict that assumption,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Teens appear interested in owning a home someday but seem to realize they need more information on how to do it.”
To help teens gain a better understanding of financial decisions they’ll face in adulthood, consider these common terms.
While nearly all teens (96%) believe credit scores play an important role in the ability to purchase a home, approximately 3 in 4 (76%) said they understood credit scores only “somewhat,” “a little” or “not at all.” A credit score is a number from 300-850 based on a number of factors, including credit history, open accounts, total debt, repayment history and more. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate a person’s ability to repay loans.
A person’s credit score may also determine the size of a down payment needed when purchasing a smartphone or home, or the deposit needed for renting property or obtaining utilities and may impact interest rates and credit limits on credit cards. Generally, scores below 620 may require paying a higher rate, a shorter repayment term or a co-signer. Scores of 700 or higher are considered more favorable to creditors and may result in lower interest rates while scores higher than 800 typically provide the most benefits to consumers.
While a slight majority of white teens (52%) correctly identified the definition of a mortgage, only around a quarter (26%) of Black teens and fewer than half (41%) of Hispanic or Latino teens could do so. A mortgage is a type of loan used to purchase or maintain a home, land or other types of real estate. The borrower makes a down payment for a portion of the purchase price then borrows the rest from a lender. The borrower then repays the lender over a number of years – typically 15-30 – via a series of regular payments that are divided into principal (the money originally borrowed) and interest with the property serving as security.
Nearly all teens surveyed (97%) thought it would be helpful if schools offered lessons that explained homeownership, including mortgages. In response, Fannie Mae is supporting the development and deployment of Junior Achievement learning experiences for thousands of students annually in various age groups by integrating relevant content from its HomeView homeownership course materials and resources, which are designed with first-time homebuyers in mind.
“Young people today are the homebuyers of tomorrow,” said Jeffery Hayward, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Fannie Mae. “By providing them access to quality, foundational education now, Fannie Mae and Junior Achievement are helping these future homeowners prepare for the mortgage and homebuying process when they’re ready to take that step.”
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help teens improve their financial knowledge and reach their goals.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Helping families manage holiday stress
(Family Features) ’Tis the season for holiday parties, travel, hosting and more. While it is a joyous time of year, the never-ending to-do lists and school being out of session can make everyone feel a little overwhelmed, children included.
Consider these five practical tips from the experts at KinderCare to help families proactively manage holiday stressors.
- Manage expectations. The commotion that often comes with the holiday season can be stressful for young children, but you can help alleviate worries by familiarizing them with what’s to come. Talk to them about upcoming travel arrangements, who they’ll see at events and what to expect throughout the season. If they are cautious in their current developmental stage, let loved ones know beforehand to give them a little extra space at festivities. Parents can also begin familiarizing little ones with relatives through photos and phone calls.
- Empower children. It’s important for children to understand they have a choice – and family members are willing to respect that choice. Parents should acknowledge their children’s body language and empower them to say “no” in uncomfortable situations. Parents can help by proactively asking questions such as, “Do you want a hug?” and if they say “no,” support them in their decision. This also helps establish healthy long-term social skills.
- Maintain your schedule. Children thrive on consistency, and during the holidays it’s important to at least try maintaining as much of what they’re used to as possible, such as naps, meals and playtime. Changes in schedule can result in more tantrums, so be sure to allow space for them to safely work through their emotions.
It’s also important to note that children feed off their parents’ energy, so make sure you’re in tune with your own emotions. When overwhelmed, openly discuss how you’re feeling and involve your children when taking breaks. For example, “It’s loud in here, would you like to go sit outside with me?”
- Have fun. Make time to spread joy and integrate activities to bond as a family, such as reading holiday-themed books, crafting, playing games, singing or baking. Whether old traditions or new, these are moments your child can cherish for years to come.
- Keep others in mind. While it’s important to set children up for success ahead of the holidays, parents should also teach children the holiday season can look different for others. Putting a focus on experiences rather than the gifts can help them have more to discuss with their peers when returning to school. It’s also a good time to consider donating toys to make room for new ones or volunteering at a local charity to show children joy can be experienced through more than just gifts.
To find more tips to help manage holiday stress, or to access additional resources around social development, setting boundaries and routines, visit KinderCare.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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