Trees & Stormwater

It is often said, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” Trees enrich our lives in so many ways. They provide shade on a hot day, release oxygen, purify the air, provide habitat for birds and pollinators, grow fruit and flowers, promote healing, add economic value to our neighborhoods, and beautify our landscapes. As if that wasn’t enough, trees also help us to naturally manage stormwater runoff.

Trees offer a variety of benefits when it comes to reducing flooding and protecting water quality. It is estimated that a typical medium-sized tree can intercept as much as 2,380 gallons of rainfall per year, helping to reduce the volume of water that flows across the landscape to the storm drainage system. Some of this intercepted rain will soak into the soil, recharging groundwater, while some will be taken up by the tree and released back to the atmosphere through transpiration. It isn’t just the aboveground part of the tree that is crucial for reducing runoff; the belowground part is important as well. Tree roots also help to reduce erosion during storms by holding soil in place through their extensive root system. Eventually, as tree roots decompose, the root void creates space that allows the soil to absorb and store more water, which reduces overland flow during storms.

Trees improve the quality of our lives in many ways, and their role in stormwater management will be particularly valuable, as our communities grow increasingly impervious with paved surfaces, which in turn generates more stormwater runoff. Plant a tree today, and let nature do the work for you.

To learn more about planting trees see. HGIC 1001, Planting Trees Correctly.

For ideas on planting the right tree in the right place, visit:

https://www.clemson.edu/extension/carolinayards/plant-database/index.html

Alley of Live Oaks (Quercus viginiana) at the Charleston Tea Plantation

Alley of Live Oaks (Quercus viginiana) at the Charleston Tea Plantation.
Amy Scaroni, ©2019 Clemson Extension

Baldcypress (Taxodium Distichum) knees emerging from the water on the edge of the Edisto River

Baldcypress (Taxodium Distichum) knees emerging from the water on the edge of the Edisto River
Amy Scaroni, ©2019 Clemson Extension

Preparing to plant a shoreline buffer alongside a pond at the Richland County Public Works facility.

Preparing to plant a shoreline buffer alongside a pond at the Richland County Public Works facility.
Amy Scaroni, ©2019 Clemson Extension

 

 

 

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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