Support tree health
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Trees do the heavy lifting when it comes to stormwater management. Individual trees intercept and evaporate rainwater, infiltrate and reduce stormwater runoff, stabilize shorelines and hillsides with their root systems, and filter out harmful pollutants before they reach waterbodies.

A single tree in your yard could be the reason you have a dry basement. Before you have an existing tree removed on your property consider the following questions (based on the tree’s size): do you know how much water it is absorbing? And, how will you address potential water issues after its removal?

Support local tree health by maintaining your tree canopy and planting new trees when possible.

Image courtesy Kate Longfield.

Tree Maintenance

Tree maintenance on your property can mean a few things:

  • Soil testing. If a tree is struggling, the type and quality of your soil could be a reason why.

 

  • Trimming. Remove dead branches to allow for new ones to grow.

  • Watering. Young trees usually need extra water to become established as they do not have large enough root systems to draw water from deeper groundwater reserves.

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Riparian Buffer Planting, Huntington, VT. Photo courtesy Britt Haselton.

Here are some of the important water quality benefits of trees:

  • Interception - Trees are able to use their canopies to intercept rainfall, which slows water and reduces erosion, while evaporating rainwater in the process. Deciduous trees can intercept an average of 700 to 1,000 gallons of rain water annually, and evergreens can intercept more than 4,000 gallons.

 

  • Evaporation - A single mature oak tree is able to transpire (release as water vapor) over 40,000 gallons of water every year. Evapotranspiration from trees cools air temperature and helps to reduce the urban heat island effect – something that is even present on a small scale in Vermont’s cities and towns.

  • Infiltration - Trees play a critical role in replenishing groundwater supplies through infiltration and maintaining streamflow during dry periods.

  • Stabilization - Tree roots hold onto soil and prevent erosion. Organic matter from leaves and microorganisms are also able to bind soil particles and prevent erosion.

  • Runoff Reduction - Depending on the size and species, a single tree can store 100 gallons or more of water during a 1-2-inch rainstorm.

 

  • Filtration - Trees filter out harmful chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and road salt before they enter streams, rivers, and lakes in large quantities. In addition to trees, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms are able to filter out pollutants in the soil.

Deeper dive