Benefits & Functions of Fruit Trees
Before selecting your first fruit tree, it's good to think about the many benefits this investment can bring to your property. Knowledge of the functions offered by trees increases your appreciation for this project. This is a worthwhile use of your time, energy and finances. Consider just a few benefits of adding any plants to your landscape.
Environmental Benefits of Vegetation
WILDLIFE HABITAT: Incorporating perennials into your landscape is an invitation to wildlife. For butterfly or bird lovers, this may be a dream come true. Gardeners also appreciate the advantages offered by beneficial insects that provide free organic pest management.
Plants create the framework for a thriving ecosystem. They offer food (nectar, fruit and seeds) along with shelter. The greater the plant variety and density, the greater the potential for animals to be attracted to your site. Small lots in urban areas will be hard-pressed to attract the full range of native animals in an area. But certainly, the smaller creatures will appreciate your efforts to accommodate them.
CARBON SEQUESTRATION: All plants sequester a certain amount of carbon. As they live and grow, they capture the carbon dioxide in our air and bind the carbon into their plant parts. Perennials, can establish massive root systems over time. These roots lock that carbon deep into our soil.
Trees in particular can amass large chunks of carbon, while also purifying the air. Incorporating fruit trees into your landscape is an environmentally friendly action. It might not single-handedly reverse climate change, but it's a step in the right direction!
Property Enhancement Through Trees
FUNCTIONAL VALUE: Trees and shrubs serve several basic functions when placed appropriately on your lot. Perimeter placement can be used to create an element of privacy, offering seclusion in an urban or suburban setting. When trees are placed on the sunny side of a property, they provide shade during hot Summer months. This results in real monetary savings as cooling costs are reduced. Trees can also function as windbreaks. Such strategies yield a property that is more pleasant and inviting, despite urban and climatic challenges.
INCREASED PROPERTY VALUE: All of the functional values of trees can benefit you in the short term. But in the long run, what if you end up selling your home and moving? Is your investment lost? Well, most realtors observe that residential lots are appraised at a higher value when they have trees. Compared to a treeless lot, your property may sell for 10% more if your trees are mature and healthy. So that $30 tree might mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in profit later on!
Natural Soil Enhancement
EROSION CONTROL: Due to erratic weather events and poor water management, many areas are losing top soil at alarming rates. Additionally, urban and suburban development has contributed to further soil erosion. Vegetation is a crucial tool for erosion control. This is often implemented through various grasses and ground covers. But trees are also highly useful in long term erosion strategies.
SOIL BUILDING: As a site begins to mature, trees serve a vital role in restoring and improving soil quality. Their roots establish relationships with mycorrhizal fungi and various micro-organisms. These systems naturally break down rock minerals in the soil through a process called mineralization. These nutrients are converted to an organic, absorbable form and drawn up by the trees. Then in the Autumn, deciduous leaves fall and enrich the surrounding soil.
NITROGEN FIXATION: Some plants also offer an additional enhancement to soils. Nitrogen fixers host bacteria that capture nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil as a plant usable form. There are many nitrogen fixing plants, including edibles such as Sea Berries (Sea Buckthorn) and Goumis.
Personal Benefits from Fruit Trees
Planting fruits trees and shrubs can make a lot of sense on an intellectual level. There are plenty of cold, hard facts that rationalize the investment. But there is a very personal element that we should never overlook.
AESTHETIC VALUE: Many edible trees, vines and shrubs simply look gorgeous when properly placed into your landscape. The twisted, gnarled branches of a contorted mulberry can make for a breathtaking centerpiece. The lush glossy leaves of a persimmon or jujube are very ornamental in appearance. Many fruiting trees produce lovely flowers in the Spring. Stone fruits like cherries, peaches and plums are great examples. The flowers of a maypop passiflora (passion fruit) offer amazing beauty while dropping delicious tropical tasting fruit!
FOOD FOOD FOOD: The most outstanding reason for growing fruiting plants is the food. Indeed, it is so rewarding as you start bringing in your first harvest from your fruit tree! Eating tree-ripened fruit means a taste that is far superior to grocery produce.
A personal backyard orchard might mean new varieties of fruit that you can't find anywhere else. Paw paws are a good example of a fruit that is so delicious, but not viable for retail as a fresh fruit. If you want them, you need to grow them yourself! You can select fruits that are your favorite to eat, that are hardest to find or that have the highest nutritional benefits.
Once your system is established, you'll soon be saving money as you enjoy free produce that can be eaten on the spot or preserved for later consumption. This is money well spent, without a doubt!