It has been nearly a half century since the U.S. Department of Agriculture first published a map of growing zones. Those zones indicate hardiness ranges based on the average annual minimum temperature of any given spot in the nation. Each zone indicates a 10-degree band.

Those bands range from 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Zone 1 to 70 degrees F in Zone 13. The last time the hardiness zone map was updated was 10 years ago, and during that time nearly half of this country is at least half a zone warmer — thanks, no doubt, to climate change.

And that warming has not stopped; it is feared that by the end of this century the earth’s climate will warm by an additional 11 degrees F. The coming 10 to 30 years present a critical window for climate action.

What can individuals do? The enormity of the challenge is indeed great, and it can overwhelm many. But there are things each and every one of us can do. While it may seem simplistic, planting trees is one important step. But according to Davey Tree, as our climate warms, trees can “find themselves in uncomfortable situations. Damage from heat and drought can stress them and make them more susceptible to disease and insect infestations.”

According to Dan Herms, Pd.D., a scientist at Davey, we may need to look at a different palette of trees that can thrive in our altered landscape.

“The climate is warming fast enough to change the hardiness zone within the lifespan of trees planted today,” says Dr. Herms. “We need to make informed decisions about which trees to plant for the changing climate, because trees are one solution to battle a warming planet.”

According to a Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association article on adapting woodlots to a changing climate, future climate predictions indicate one of the most common forest trees in the southern part of the state, the red oak, will be in jeopardy there as the weather and other factors turn “hostile” to this species. But, according to the “Tree Atlas Coastal and East Maine and the Northern Forest,” planting seedlings of this species now in northern forests of the state where they are not common, “may ensure a robust seed source for the future.”

Already, forward-thinking public gardens are doing this, moving away from monoculture and choosing climate-resilient trees. In Brunswick, for instance, the town’s tree nursery is preparing to ramp up to ensure that the town remains one full of trees, according to an article in the Portland Press Herald from last May.

That nursery is about half evergreen and half deciduous trees. Among the new selections are white pines, and also red pines, which nursery manager Dennis Wilson says are more resistant to both heat and windstorms as well. Elms, hop hornbeams and several American chestnut trees are among the deciduous trees. A state grant helped to provide funding for the nursery.

According to an information leaflet for Eastern and Coastal Maine from the Climate Change Response Network, other tree selections suitable for future landscapes here include shagbark hickory, American beech, American elm, bigtooth aspen, black cherry, black oak, ironwood, quaking aspen, red maple, sugar maple, swamp white oak, white oak and sweet birch.

Also suggested for “new habitat with migration potential” are bitternut hickory, black walnut, black gum, chestnut oak, eastern red cedar, mockernut hickory, pignut hickory, sassafras, scarlet oak, slippery elm and yellow poplar.

Predictions show that as the climate change crisis deepens, business and consumers will join with non-profit groups and government efforts in a global tree-planting boom. Trees can enhance climate change resilience through the ecosystem services they provide. Trees also sequester and provide long-term carbon storage, decrease stormwater runoff, conserve energy through their shading and reduction of urban heat and lastly help to filter air pollutants.

What this all boils down to is that one of the most consequential things you as an individual can do now or in the coming year is to plant a tree. Making sure that you plant the right tree and plant it in the right place so that it will thrive would be the next most important thing to do.

Planting to combat climate change is one of the really big trends we see coming in the new year. As we head into the holidays and prepare to wrap this year up for the history books, we can begin to set our gardening goals for 2023. Let’s hope there are trees and lots of green growing things in your plans.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing, a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm, the professional organization for garden writers. Her gardens are in Camden.