The many benefits of trees in well-manicured landscapes and urban neighborhoods are easy to see.
• Trees enhance the appearance and increase the value of real estate.
• Trees provide shade and create inviting spaces for recreation, like public parks and playgrounds.
• Trees provide color in the landscape—green is thought to be relaxing, and the bright colors of autumn leaves are cheerful and warming.
• Trees offer privacy and screen undesirable views. They also block wind and absorb sound.
• Treelined streets are welcoming and add a sense of community to a neighborhood.
• Trees provide familiar landmarks and give identity to a place.
• Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and eco-systems for other plants to thrive.
Trees are the beautiful backdrop to our lives, but the benefit of trees reach far beyond aesthetic value. Today, with growing concern over global climate change, we know how important trees are to a sustainable ecology. The story of how that science came about might surprise you.
When the earliest European settlers arrived in North America, they were taken aback by the dense forestation and the cool, wet weather. John Adams called the whole continent “a dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears.”
Settlers had expected a paradise, with fertile land and a climate favorable to agriculture, similar to the Mediterranean region that shares the same latitude. They reasoned that the abundance of trees was responsible for the moist, cool climate and set about deforesting the land by thousands of acres at a time.
Many notables reported that the mass removal of trees indeed seemed to have improved the climate, evidenced by dryer, warmer weather—longer growing seasons and milder winters. Whether this was entirely true or merely the propaganda necessary to bring more settlers to the New World is up for debate.
Regardless, the opposition launched America’s first conservation movement. Adherents pointed to meteorologic studies over a 16-year period, showing that the deforestation seemed to exaggerate climate extremes across the board. It turned out to be a case of not knowing the importance of what you have until it’s gone as the extremes we not favorable either.
Now, modern science cites deforestation as an important factor in climate change and stresses the important role of trees in creating a sustainable ecology and quality of life.
Here are just a few of the ways the benefit of trees improve our daily lives.
Better Air Quality
Trees absorb carbon and produce oxygen, helping to reduce the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gasses. An acre of mature trees annually absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.
Trees act as natural air conditioners. They clean the air by filtering odors, gasses, and other pollution, trapping the particulates on leaves and bark. Further, the temperature beneath a lush tree canopy can be anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees cooler than a similar, treeless area.
Trees help conserve energy by reducing heating and cooling costs. Placed strategically, deciduous trees shade buildings in the summer months and allow the sun to shine through in winter. Rows of evergreens create windbreaks and provide year-round shade in warmer climates.
Water conservation is another important benefit of trees. Shade trees help slow water evaporation from thirsty lawns, thus requiring less frequent watering. A tree canopy also breaks up rainfall, helping to reduce water pollution by preventing stormwater runoff. When properly mulched, water will filter down and through the tree’s root system into the groundwater supply. Trees also prevent soil erosion caused by heavy rains and runoff.
Studies show that neighborhoods and business districts with healthy, well-maintained trees attract more new residents, as well as increase industry and commercial enterprise. A treelined street slows traffic, allowing drivers to see more opportunity for stopping to shop or dine. Further, people spend more time and money when trees are included in retail street designs.
The value of homes on treelined streets can increase by as much as 18% over those in a neighborhood without trees. Apartments and commercial spaces rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate. Workers report more productivity and less absenteeism when their environment includes trees.
Of course, trees provide food, wood, and mulch in large scale industries, but fruit orchards, green landscaping, and mulching have small, entrepreneurial applications as well.
Health and Wellness Benefits
Access to green spaces such as parks, playgrounds, and recreation trails encourage increased physical activity, help reduce stress, and promote fitness. Studies show that green landscaping in urban areas even slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, has a calming effect on brain function, increases concentration, and reduces mental fatigue. Symptoms of ADHD also seem to improve with access to natural spaces populated with trees.
Trees might even make you feel younger and add years to your life. One large study found that having 10 or more trees in a city block improves health perceptions in ways similar to having a higher median income, or being as much as seven years younger. For patients with heart conditions, including stroke, diabetes, and obesity, results showed that an increase of 11 trees per city block compared to being 1.4 years younger than their actual age.
And, you don’t have to be outside to reap the wellness benefits of trees. Statistics have revealed that surgical patients in facilities with views of trees outside their windows heal faster and with fewer complications
When you are outside, trees shield UV sunlight, acting as a natural sunscreen and helping to prevent skin cancer.
Community Green Spaces
Green spaces in urban communities encourage social interaction. Whether walking your dog, taking kids to the playground, or strolling through the park, trees provide a pleasant setting for leisure activities and getting to know your neighbors.
You can see that trees offer many benefits for our health and wellness, as well as adding to the visual beauty and value of a property.
The professionals at Mr. Tree will be happy to show you how you can reap the many benefits of trees by adding them to your landscaping plans. Contact us today for a free estimate.