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Green up the area with native plants
Keep Liberty Beautiful
Keep Liberty Beautiful logo
Sara Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

We are celebrating National Planting Day through September. In the next few weeks, as we enter the cooler temperatures of fall (thank goodness), we are also entering an excellent time to start planting. Planting isn’t just for spring.

National Planting Day was established as a day to promote planting and gardening, and particularly to promote awareness of the benefits of using native species in landscapes. Native plants are a natural and healthy way to create greener and more beautiful communities. I think most of us want to live in an attractive green community. There are many benefits to having a greener community and when we add native plants to the mix, there are even more benefits.

Attractively landscaped private and business properties benefit our community’s ability to attract new retail businesses and other industries. Green landscaping can add up to 28 percent to a property’s value. For homeowners, that can be significant.

Attractive landscaping and exterior appearances can increase retail sales for businesses as well.

If you are considering selling your property, a pleasing landscape can reduce the property’s time on the market by 10 to 15 percent. Tree-scaped business districts also average 12 percent higher revenue than treeless, "un-landscaped" venues.

Well-placed trees and plants can have a positive effect on your quality of life, too. Just gazing at trees and green-scapes for five minutes can reduce your stress level? According to a study by the University of Texas, a pleasing landscape definitely reduces stress. Other studies show that hospitals with windows overlooking greenery can improve patients’ healing. Access to public green-scapes in communities have also been shown to lower heart rates and reduce stress levels for local citizens.

Here are a couple of other facts that will make you a tree lover. Just three properly placed trees could save you $100 to $250 a year in energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Planting windbreaks and shade trees can also reduce winter heating bills by 15 percent and air conditioning by 75 percent.

If you are curious about the value of landscaping, check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator ( This cool little online calculator can definitely tell you what value trees bring to your property. All homeowners want help with that.

Trees also help with:

• Storm water runoff. Trees block and suck up water running off your property, preventing pollutants from entering waterways and slowing erosion.

• Carbon dioxide reduction. You do like to breathe oxygen, don’t you?

• Energy savings. Like I said, shade trees cool homes — and businesses — in summer; windbreaks help warm them in winter. Those energy savings not only increase your comfort level, they can mean cash savings for you, too.

If you decide to green up your place by planting more trees, plants or shrubs, you will reap even more benefits by going native. Natives thrive without the extra TLC (translate that into your time, your work and your money) you’ll have to devote to any greenery that’s forced to live outside its natural habitat. That can significantly reduce those weekend lawn maintenance chores.

A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass. That is a fact that homeowners, business owners, and governments need to consider in planning green spaces. We all benefit when we replace grassy areas with low maintenance and drought tolerant native plants.

We will be encouraging native planting this month by having a few mini-contests with native plants as prizes so brush up on your native plant knowledge and win a free plant. Check out our website and Facebook to find out more. We all win when we use native plants to "green our environment."

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