Want to reduce tree and landscape pests? Biodiversity is the solution.
March 16, 2016
The list of benefits urban trees offer us city-dwellers is a long one: Trees shade our homes, reduce our electricity bills, remove pollutants from the air, provide beauty and calm, and offer habitat to local wildlife. But, having trees on our property also means we must care for them proactively; which means preventing disease and pest problems, providing enough water and keeping up with their ongoing pruning needs.
Insects and pest control are a big part of tree management; but if we immediately reach for a chemical control treatment every time we see an insect, we could be doing more harm than good. Reducing pests by using the most low-impact means first is always a good approach. If you can work with nature to solve the problem, all the better. While we know that good maintenance goes a long way to preventing pest infestations, as well as natural pest control treatments, there are some other strategies you can employ to keep your landscape in balance.
A very important strategy might just be one you had not yet considered: Biodiversity.
Why is biodiversity important?
Did you know that planting too many of one kind of tree is actually bad for the environment? Monocultures, or populations of only one species, can lead to a host of environmental problems, including massive outbreaks of pest and disease issues. Not to mention, without a diverse population of trees and plants, local wildlife and pollinators can’t survive.
A good example of how a monoculture can lead to disaster is the destruction of Ash trees by the Emerald Ash Borer. In the Midwest where Ash trees have been planted in over-abundance in parkways, along public streets and in parks, millions of these trees have died due to ash borer infestations. Many have had to be removed because they pose a safety risk on properties due to the damage they’ve sustained. If the areas had been planted with a more diverse selection of tree species, the borer would never have been able to experience a population explosion, and residents would be left with the trees resistant to the pest.
Basically, planting a monoculture is like putting out an all-you-can eat buffet for certain pests and diseases.
Age diversity is another factor that contributes the risk of pest and disease outbreaks. Age diversity in the urban forest also increases the stability of our ecosystem. This is why we encourage you to never stop planting! Young trees, middle age trees and older trees all manage and fight off pests differently and provide different benefits to the environment and wildlife. So, keep on planting! It’s the cycle of life.
So when you’re ready to plant new trees on your property, take biodiversity into consideration. Instead of planting all of one species, consider mixing it up a bit by planting several types. Not sure which trees would be best for certain areas of your landscape? Be sure to consult with an arborist to make the best choice.
Our new GREEN-UP DFW Tree Planting Program pairs you with our arborists to help you choose and plant trees on your property.
Posted: March 16, 2016