Global research suggests forests and green spaces have a positive effect on people’s health

The International Society of Arboriculture

The urban forest is increasingly being recognized for its benefits to public health and wellbeing. As a result, more cities in North America are including green spaces in their community health policies and promoting trees in their climate-change agendas.

Among the ways trees improve public health:

  • 100 trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants from the environment each year. (Courtesy: USDA)
  • Neighborhoods with trees experience fewer incidents of domestic violence and are safer and more sociable. (Courtesy: USDA)
  • People who use public parks and open spaces are three times more likely to reach recommended levels of physical activity than those who don’t participate. (Courtesy: NIH)
  • A national study in the United Kingdom showed that people exposed to the greenest environments have lowest levels of health inequality related to income deprivation. Physical environments that promote good health are important to reduce socioeconomic health inequalities. (Mitchell and Popham, 2008)
  • Residents in the Netherlands with only 10% green space within 1km of their home had a 25% greater risk of depression and a 30% greater risk of anxiety disorders than those with the highest degree of green space nearby. (Maas et al., 2009)

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Actons announce second dragon – a third on the way

by Trina Kleist, The Union Newspaper

Arborist Aero Acton sees dragons in his Banner Mountain front yard – two now.

The latest one emerged at the end of October from the stump left when a tree fell during a storm last winter.

Labor took six and a half hours at the hands – and chainsaw and torch – of Foresthill resident and wood carver Jeff Turpin of Owl Creek Lumber Co.

Acton and his wife, Kara Acton, operate Leaf it to Me tree service.

“After having our booth at The Union’s Spring Home and Garden Show for years with Jeff of Owl Creek Lumber, we hoped we would have the chance to use him in our own yard,” wrote Kara Acton. “Who knew the tree would fall last November and open up that opportunity?”

Turpin birthed the dragon on a recent Friday, delivering a head bursting out of the ground. He “used one of the exposed roots to create a wing emerging on one side of the dragon head,” Kara Acton wrote. “The carving turned out better than we ever could have imagined!”

The Actons’ first dragon appeared eight years ago, Kara Acton continued.

“Shortly after moving to our home, we received a tree order containing some twisted, weeping blue Atlas cedar,” she wrote. “After looking at the trees leaning this way and that in our yard, Aero said he saw a dragon topiary in the shape they made and had to plant them out front.

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From sprouts to split: Options through pruning and care

The Union Newspaper

Have you seen the split oak tree on Highway 49 near Pekolee Drive?

This tree has prompted a lot of questions since it came apart in a storm this winter.

Many oak trees are stump sprouts, growing off an old stump and root system of an oak tree that fell over, was cut down or burned in a fire. A good clue you’re looking at a stump sprout is there are multiple trunks coming from the base. From sprouts to split is the life of a stump sprout tree, and that is what happened to the tree you see there.

After the tree is reduced to a stump and roots, stored energy is used to grow sprouts and the tree is reborn. These new sprouts grow out of the newest outer layer of wood. The inner part of the stump and much of the root system dies of starvation due to lack of flow of nutrients.

The dead tissue then begins the inevitable natural recycling process of decay. The new sprouts grow vigorously and compete with each other for light, as well as attachment to the stump and roots. As the sprouts begin to produce energy, new roots start to grow from the surface and the ends of the remaining root system.

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Opinion Letter

The Union Newspaper

On Saturday, Jan. 24, I had the wonderful experience of learning how to prune my landscape trees. Not only did Prospector’s Nursery provide a comfortable learning environment, including some edible goodies, but the “class” was free, as Aero Acton of Leaf It To Me first taught us and then showed us on some truly challenging specimens, exactly how to do it.

In this economic climate especially, such collaboration of businesses to share valuable skills with the public, makes good business sense.

We left with very warm feelings toward two local businesses.

Bill McQuerry
Penn Valley

Free Mulch

The Union Newspaper

It’s fall and the trees are putting a winter blanket over their roots. In the forest the soil is covered with leaves and other decaying organic matter.

This organic mulch slowly decomposes improving soil fertility, aeration, structure, and drainage.

Mulch is part of a tree’s natural environment and provides the perfect conditions for roots. We can learn from this as the trees know how to take care of themselves.

Organic mulch provides many benefits beyond soil improvement. Mulch conserves water by decreasing evaporation and helping water soak into the ground faster. This makes more water for roots, while reducing soil erosion and runoff that contributes to flooding.

Mulch is natures blanket keeping the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This moderation in temperature extends the season available for root growth.

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Specialty tree trimmers use their conscience

by Edy Cassell, The Union Home Improvement Guide

The sound of chainsaws and the smell of two-stroke engines fill the air, but what is most striking about visiting the Leaf it to Me crew is the vision of men in trees, moving around with an ease that defies the terrestrial reality that grounds most of us mere mortals. Originally established in 1998 by Kara Acton and joined shortly thereafter by husband Aero Acton, Leaf it to Me has grown into one of the most versatile tree care businesses around. With a strong background from UC Davis in horticulture, arboriculture and urban forestry, Kara and Aero have grown Leaf it to Me into a thriving business with a consciousness that goes beyond just cutting trees. “We don’t mow grass and we don’t
do logging, but we do everything in the middle,” Aero Acton said.

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Tree Talk: Got roots?

The most misunderstood and overlooked part of a tree is the root system that hides beneath the ground.

Most people think trees have giant tap roots that grow deep into the ground to hold the tree up. They think they “saved” a tree just because they didn’t cut it down. They call leaves “green waste” and haul them to the dump or burn them. These beliefs could not be further from the truth.

If people could see the roots, or understand them, they would make better choices for healthier and safer trees.

A tree’s roots are essential for support, intake of water and minerals, storage of sugars and synthesis of compounds. When the seed of most trees germinates, the first thing to grow is the tap root. In the first year, the tap root may grow 3 to 5 feet down or to the side in search of water and minerals, while the above-ground portion of the tree is less than a foot tall.

As the tree grows, new roots emerge near ground level and grow vigorously outwards. As the tree matures, these lateral roots outgrow the tap root, making it indistinguishable. A few of these, the heart roots, enlarge and grow as deep as the tap root to provide support before branching laterally.

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Baffle bark beetles by pruning pines in winter’s cold

by Carol Guild, The Union Newspaper

The winter months are not the usual time when we think about tree care – unless (knock on wood) Old Man Winter blows one over. But this is the best time to care for your conifers to help ensure strong, healthy trees year-round.

“All the pests that attack them are dormant during the wintertime and active during the summer,” explained Aero Acton, certified arborist and owner of Leaf It To Me, a Nevada City tree service. “We wait for freezing temperatures, which can be December through February or even March, depending on the season,” to prune trees.

The bark beetle’s job in nature is to thin the weak trees out of the forest. All these boring insects are attracted to weak and damaged trees by sense of smell, and they can detect them from as far away as 7 miles.

“A pruning cut is an injury,” said Acton.

This may not be as important to a logger out in the middle of the woods, but In the yard, you don’t want to increase your chances of attracting the beetles, he said.

It’s not to say that you would definitely attract them with spring or summer pruning, but you certainly increase your chances, Acton said.

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Just maybe, the kids will eat a radish School garden gets boost from local tree service

By Trina Kleist, The Union Newspaper

Custodian Don Fowler built the garden at Gold Run Elementary School, in Nevada City, in 1991 and ” no matter how hard parent volunteers worked at it ” the weeds and trees finally were about to take over.

So parents Aero and Kara Acton, owners of the Leaf it to Me tree and horticulture service in Nevada City, donated a crew on Monday to prune deadwood from the deodar cedar, fruit trees and grape vines and pull out weeds at the little plot on a corner of Zion Street.

“It’s enough for the kids and the moms just to plant,” said Kara Acton, whose two boys attend pre-school and second grade there. “We’re just trying to calm the jungle out there so they can work.”

Beneath the jungle canopy, children have been harvesting tomatoes, potatoes and winter squash. Dahlias from the garden adorn the school office, and children have hauled in pumpkins planted by last spring’s pre-schoolers.

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