If you're planning to add trees and shrubs to your yard, now is the time to do it.
Planting in the fall gives them time to get established, and, when spring arrives, they will flourish.
This season, look beyond crepe myrtles and Bradford pear trees and pick native trees, shrubs and plants.
When you think "native," think plants that occur naturally in the region, state, ecosystem or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.
Native trees like magnolias, oaks, swamp titis, yaupons, native fringe trees, Virginia willows, fetterbushes, pond cypress, swamp tupelos, native persimmons and paw paws can make your yard look great and provide crucial resources for wildlife.
Native trees have become a crucial part of the mission of Baton Rouge Green.
The 30-year-old organization’s priority used to be planting trees for beautification of the city's landscape, said Christopher Cooper, a program specialist for Baton Rouge Green.
“We’ve made a transition from just city beautification to seeing trees as what they really are: green infrastructure and essential infrastructure," he said. "Because of this, we’ve been planting as many native trees as we can."
To help turn our planted landscapes into effective biological corridors, Cooper said we need to add native plants to our neighborhoods, corporate landscapes and lands bordering infrastructure — even in dense cities.
Baton Rouge Green currently manages over 4,300 trees on the roadways and in community landscapes in East Baton Rouge Parish. The organization maintains the trees with pruning, fertilization, weed control, insect control and incident management through an agreement with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works.
Each year, a study showed, these 4,300 trees prevent the runoff of over 11.4 million gallons of stormwater, save the community over 466,000 kilowatt-hours of energy and store over 1.4 million pounds of carbon, among countless other ecological benefits.
Trees benefit us by improving air quality, especially important for people with pulmonary issues. Several scholarly studies also suggest that enhanced vegetation alongside roadways correlates to lower stress and frustration in drivers, and reduced crash rates, according to the BRG website.
“There is so much medical research now that identifies the health benefits of trees to humans," Cooper said, "and we also know that they are crucial to ecosystems by providing habitat for wildlife.”
In addition to promoting and encouraging tree planting in public and community areas, Baton Rouge Green also teaches homeowners how to plant trees.
“We always want to educate residents on selecting the right tree in the right place,” Cooper said.
You can download the organization's Tree Planting Guide at batonrougegreen.com/trees/our-tree-planting-guide/.
In addition to planting trees, you can add to Baton Rouge Green's database of trees.
In August, the organization completed mapping and identifying more than 45,000 public trees in area.
Add your own trees to the count with Baton Rouge Green's “My Tree” program. Using a smartphone, tablet or computer, you can identify, measure and map trees in your yard and neighborhood. Participants are guided through tree identification and are able to plot the location of the tree on an interactive map, then instantly see the benefits each tree they map provides to the community.
Louisiana Master Naturalists of Greater Baton Rouge seek to advance awareness, understanding and stewardship of the natural environment. For information, visit lmngbr.org.