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Less lawn and more trees — not a bad thought

April 29, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

I remember the first time that I came to this area. I grew up in Central Minnesota where the wind never ever blew like it does here.

I was amazed and wondered at the force that must have truly been a tornado that had come through the area that caused all of the trees to be perpetually facing in one direction. I came to find out that it really was from the force of the wind.

It is our constant companion.

I wonder as my family continues to plant trees how the pioneers were able to get any trees started on the prairie. Where I live, we are surrounded by natural prairie, in just about all directions. It probably is one of the last few places where it stretches this far, at least in Lyon County. However, starting trees in this environment to slow down the wind around our farm is very much a challenge.

Friday is National Arbor Day. If I had a choice, I would have less lawn and more gardens and more trees growing throughout our farm site. Trees are so important to us and I think we tend to forget just how important they are. I hear from fellow tree owners as they watch an older, beloved tree that has fallen victim to some disease or pest and they become sorrowful or grieve, depending if they lose the tree. They say that many were planted by their great grandparents or know of one that has been in a particular place for a very long time. It is hard to see them die and lose them.

It is like losing one of our family members.

An example of this is: We have a tree between our swing set and our trampoline that has become the center of the play area of the farm. It is a sweet, easy to use snack that can be picked through the fall months while the kids run playing outside. Even our 2-year-old enjoys picking apples from this tree; she thinks they are great.

However, the rabbits were tough on this tree and I am waiting to prune which is probably about half of the tree out because I don't think it will make it back. It makes me sad but I know that eventually it will recover and do well again.

Trees are the longest living organisms on earth. An acre of trees will remove up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide a year. The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year.

One of the tallest softwood trees is the General Sherman, a giant redwood sequoia of California which is about 275 feet tall. The Ada Tree of Australia is 236 feet tall and has a root system that takes up more than an acre.

The world's tallest tree is a coast redwood in California which is 360 feet tall. The oldest trees are 4,600-year-old Bristlecone pines which are found in the United States. A mature birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds per year.

Tree rings provide precise information about environmental events, including volcanic eruptions.

It's Arbor Day. Go out and plant a tree.

For more information about gardening, you can email me at



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