Benefits of Trees
Trees are incredible assets to our communities. Not only are they beautiful, but they also provide a variety of benefits that make living in Davis more comfortable, relaxing, and affordable.
Trees help us thrive
Our mission is to enhance Davis’ urban forest. We love working towards this cause because of the many benefits trees provide to our community. Check out the videos on the right to learn about everything trees do for us, and why our work matters!
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Tree Davis is dedicated to ensuring our local urban forest is resilient to the changing climate, so that our community can be resilient too.
What We Plant Today Matters for Tomorrow
Trees are becoming increasingly important to help communities adapt to climate change. With this in mind, we encourage Davis citizens to “think outside the box” and consider planting trees that may be less common in our current landscape, but will be valuable in the landscape to come, such as shade trees and native trees that provide habitat for insects and animals.
While not every location can accommodate large shade trees, small trees can still make a difference in the surrounding micro-climate. Urban areas have a great need for this because of the urban heat island effect, which causes buildings and roads to absorb heat from the sun, creating a bubble of heat around a city. Planting trees reduces this effect by creating shade and reflecting heat back into the atmosphere. They can also reduce energy costs (less AC!) and purify the air and soil.
The Search for "Climate-Ready" Trees
As our climate becomes more and more unpredictable, many trees that have thrived in this region have become less suited to their environment. Thankfully, researchers are working to find trees that will be successful in a hotter, drier future. For example, the Climate Ready Trees study researches how select tree species respond in different California ecosystems, including right here in Davis.
Want to learn about some of the trees being studied in our area? Here’s Tree Davis board member and former USFS researcher Dr. Greg McPherson!
- Tree Davis is focused on planting promising “climate-ready” species through our Community Canopy Program running through March 2022. Check it out!
- Tree Davis is in partnership with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to develop a newly-updated recommended tree list for our region that accounts for our changing climate. In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our newsletter here to receive updates on our partnerships and progress!
Ready to get your hands dirty?
Everyone can be a tree steward – in your backyard, neighborhood, or community! Whether you’re interested in planting a new tree in your yard or learning how to help the mature trees in your area live long, happy lives, here are some resources to get you started.
Let’s cover the basics to consider before picking up that shovel – the what, where, and when of tree planting!
What To Plant
Choosing what to plant is the first important step. Knowing the climate in your local area can help you pick a tree that will thrive and provide all the benefits you desire. In Davis, things to keep in mind are drought conditions and soil composition. You can always call local nurseries for recommendations, but in the meantime, here are some good places to start your tree search.
Right Tree, Right Place
There are many things to consider before putting your tree in the ground. Are there water lines or electricity cables under the soil? Will your tree be shaded by other nearby trees? Is it too close to the road or your house? Ensure that the tree you plant will develop in healthy and safe ways by doing the following:
- Check below: Before you plant a tree, you should always check for cables and water lines. Call 811 to have an expert mark these lines for free.
- Check above: Find out how tall your tree is expected to grow, then observe guidelines related to the tree’s recommended placement in relation to built infrastructure and utilities, such as overhead power lines. PG&Es resource page on this topic is a good place to start.
- Be a good neighbor: Choosing an appropriate distance from the sidewalk to plant your tree gives it some room to grow and is important for visibility, walkability, and safety on the street. Here are some general tips for how and where to plant a good tree.
- Know your species: Some tree species are known for having certain characteristics that may make them good candidates for some locations and bad candidates for others. Consider whether the characteristics of the species you have in mind are suitable for its environment. See what you can learn about the root system structure, the potential of the tree to shed leaves, fruit, or pollen, and the ability of the tree to support its limbs, for example.
When To Plant
In a hot, dry climate like Davis, it’s generally best to plant trees in the fall or winter. The cooler temperatures and rain allows the tree to get a head start establishing its root system before the stress of the summer heat arrives, so plan ahead to give your tree a smooth first year.
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Plant A Tree
Planting a tree is not as simple as it looks! Check out our video below to learn proper tree planting methods.
Important things to note when planting a tree:
Watch the planting process
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- Digging the hole to the correct depth and width
- Loosening the tree’s roots once removing it from the pot
- Making sure the first woody root is placed at or just above the soil level
- Placing the stakes in the right position
- Spreading mulch in a large, doughnut-shaped pile around the tree
If planted correctly and given the right care, urban trees can easily out-live us, making them quite an investment! Learn how to take care of trees today so we can enjoy them tomorrow!
- Grass is a thirsty crop, so we encourage Davis residents to remove grassy areas from their yards and plant trees and complimentary drought tolerant plants instead. Our ongoing redesign and improvement project at the Memorial Grove is one such example of a climate-appropriate landscape.
- One of the biggest care needs young trees have is watering. This is critical to help them establish stable and healthy root systems, especially during dry spells. While installing or expanding a current irrigation system, especially drip irrigation, is an easy solution, here are some watering guidelines and options that pertain specifically to providing supplemental water for newly established trees.
- As trees mature, the benefits they provide grow as well, but urban environments may impede their health if they’re not given the proper care. This makes it especially important to understand what a tree needs to thrive.
- While young trees need adequate water to grow and establish a healthy root system, it is also important to make sure mature trees get the water they need. Some trees, such as the coast live oak, can actually die from too much water, while others, such as the coastal redwood, need frequent irrigation. Be sure to check what kind of tree you have and be aware of its water requirements.
Health & Longevity
- Protect the Bark – Trees of all ages can be susceptible to infection if their bark is damaged. Be careful to keep power tools, including lawnmowers, away from the trunk and the tops of the roots if exposed.
- Spread Mulch – Spreading a wide layer of mulch can help mature trees as much as young ones by trapping moisture in the soil and providing nutrients once it decomposes.
- Stay off the Roots –Trees actually breathe through the tops of their roots. If the soil around the base of the tree is trampled down, the tree may have difficulty absorbing the water and air it needs. Make sure to keep heavy objects away from the tree and avoid foot traffic. And never, ever pile stones around the trunk!
Requests and Permits
- Tree Removal & Pruning – Mature trees require professional pruning, and in many cases, a permit is required to completely remove a tree. If you think your mature tree needs pruning or is a hazard and must be removed, please contact the City of Davis Urban Forestry Department to have your situation assessed.
Caring for Mature Trees
- Our good friends at Canopy have developed a guide on caring for mature trees.
Pests & Disease
- The ongoing drought is causing severe stress to trees in Davis and other communities. Stressed trees are more susceptible to disease, pests, and death. Learn how to care for your trees and help them avoid these stressors.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process by which you can address pest problems while minimizing risks to humans and the environment. The UC Davis IPM Guide can teach you how to manage pests with long-term, ecosystem-based strategies.
Help Your Trees Survive Drought
- California has a history of droughts, and climate trends indicate that it’s only going to get worse. Trees are long-term investments with many benefits.
- Want more tips for helping your plants survive the drought? See 7 tips for landscape survival during drought.
Other Things to Continue Monitoring
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Discover the beauty of our local tree canopy through these interactive activities (see right)!
Volunteer with us – chances are, we’re coming to a greenbelt, park, or home near you soon to plant or prune the trees that will become our future canopy. We encourage everyone, families included, to be a part! Click here to visit our volunteer page.