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Re-thinking your next garden project after Bradford pear banned in S.C.

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If you’re planning on re-doing your yard or garden, you might want to take a look at the species you’re planting.

Bradford pear trees were the favorite for years, but they were recently banned in South Carolina.

Bradford Pear Trees became popular in the 50s and 60s, before anyone knew the problems these trees would cause.

“At the time, they thought that they were sterile and therefore wouldn’t become invasive or really mess with our ecosystems. But it became quickly apparent that they are not sterile and, um, they became invasive throughout the Southeast U.S,” said Zoe Rinker, Savannah Tree Foundation Executive Director.

It may not sound like a problem...more trees - isn’t that a good thing? Well, not all the time. Not when the planting of a new tree comes at the cost of native trees and puts local agriculture at risk.

“They’re overtaking native species and they’re very difficult to eradicate and, so‚ they have spikes or thorns on them that can be really harmful to humans, or livestock, or even tires on heavy equipment and so, they’re just becoming this nuisance, more on the rural community and farming community in South Carolina,” Rinker explained.

So keep in mind, the Callery, or Bradford Pear, is invasive and they’re everywhere. There is even one in Savannah on the north end of Forsyth Park. In addition to the problems it causes by being invasive, the structure of the tree - the limbs prone to growing into each other - will make these limbs weak and prone to snapping and that could cause issues to the cars in your driveway, your roof, and the plants in your garden.

So how, specifically, is it harming local varieties? Is it changing soil conditions? Is it just overtaking them?

“It’s just overtaking them. So, Bradford pears do perform well in shade. So, they’ll go under trees that already exist and take resources from them,” Rinker said.

It’s a pretty tree causing an ugly problem. Local experts suggest shopping around for other native tree options that won’t cause problems.

“There is the Red Bud, the Magnolia Tree, Catalpas are really pretty trees that are not very well used,” said Rinker.

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