Site Challenges

Trees - Dead or Alive

Living Trees

illustration of digging holes between tree roots

Planting under living trees requires special care to avoid damaging tree roots. When planting under trees, dig a separate hole for each plant.

If you are planting along woody banks, keep in mind plants will not be as large or as full as in other areas. But that is the way the plants would naturally grow.

In addition, avoid using heavy machinery when planting in shoreline areas. Heavy equipment can compact the soil and, as noted earlier, compacted soil leads to water runoff and contributes to the erosion process.

Dead Trees

heron on downed log in a lake

Dead trees, either standing or fallen, are commonly called "snags" or "wildlife trees". They create structure, cover, and food sources for many species of wildlife and provide excellent spawning and nursery habitat for fish.

Cavities in snags attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, brown creepers, wood ducks, mergansers, flycatchers and squirrels. Ospreys and eagles nest or perch on dead trees, as do herons and egrets.

Downed logs that extend into the water are especially valuable as basking sites for turtles and ducks, homes for salamanders and frogs, and a haven for the insects, worms and microorganisms so critical in the food web.

The tangle of dead tree branches underwater protects juvenile fish from predators and provides a surface for insects and other invertebrates that fish eat.

Shoreline owners are encouraged to preserve standing and fallen trees on their property to provide fish and wildlife habitat, unless they pose a hazard.

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