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Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 12:23 UK
Can you dig it?

By Kieran Falconer
Trees for Cities

Discover how London's trees are the lungs of the capital and why winter is the perfect time for planting.

Tree of Heaven
Tree of Heaven, ailanthus altissima, within Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith

Autumn sees the leaves turn from green to gold and red and then fall with only the bare branches and trunk remaining.

While December may look like the lowest point in a tree's year it is actually the best time for planting new trees.

During winter, trees are dormant with little active growth and no loss of water through their leaves.

Planting at this time allows the micro-roots to develop so that by Spring the tree is ready to burst into life again.

Think of it like this - while they are at their sleepiest, it's the best time to put them to bed.

Planting can be as simple as digging a hole and chucking an acorn in!

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Get planting

A variety of trees in Battersea Park
A variety of trees in Battersea Park

Trees produce vast quantities of seed for a good reason, however, and that is that many seeds fail to germinate.

If you want to plant a tree with a good chance of survival it is worth thinking about it a bit more.

For example what type of tree do you want to plant? Is your garden going to cope with a mighty oak or would a nice wild cherry or crab apple tree be better? Do you have a lot of light or shade? Do you want to encourage birds and butterflies or collect conkers?

Once you've chosen your tree, then comes the spade work.

Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball.

Place the tree so that the level of soil comes up to the top of the root ball where the roots end and the trunk begins.

Fill the hole with soil and water well.

In its first year it's going to be particularly thirsty so a good healthy splash of water on planting should see your tree to budding glory by Spring.

So it might be cold out there but you'll soon warm up with the digging.

Ten reasons why London needs trees

1) Trees are the lungs of London - a large beech tree can provide enough oxygen for the daily requirements of ten people.

2) By filtering polluted air, reducing chemical smog formation, shading out harmful solar radiation and providing attractive, calming setting for recreation, trees can have a positive effect on the incidence of asthma, skin cancer and many stress related illnesses.

3) Many of the most significant trees on our streets were planted over 100 years ago; this living legacy reminds us what makes London so special and why we need a programme of replacement planting to provide the tree-lined streets of the future.

4) They're carbon crunchers - trees help to lock up the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

5) Property in tree-lined streets is worth 18% more than in similar streets without trees.

6) The presence of greenery decreases behaviour such as vandalism, aggression and violence. The greener a building's surroundings the fewer total crimes.

7) Biodiversity. Native oaks, for example, are home to 423 different leaf-eating insects.

8) People are attracted to live, work and invest in green surroundings, so a commitment to the trees on our streets is a very cost effective way of underpinning the local and regional economy.

9) Trees can save up to 10 per cent of energy consumption through their moderation of the local climate.

10) ... and if you want one final reason then just remember the old Greek proverb: Civilisation is when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Trees for Cities

Trees for Cities is an independent charity that plants trees and re-landscapes public spaces in urban areas of greatest need. The charity's vision is to stimulate a greening renaissance in cities around the world that will impact on global warming and beautify the urban landscape, as well as encouraging greater social cohesion through the active participation of local people.

A special effort is made to involve children and young people in all of its projects. The public can get involved by sponsoring trees, registering as a volunteer, enrolling in training programmes, taking part in the Tree-Athlon and going to fundraising parties - see www.treesforcities.org for more information.


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