Most people plant trees for their beauty and the shade they provide, but do you know about the many other benefits of trees?
By planting and caring for trees, you can improve your surroundings, reduce pollution, lower energy costs, improve the appearance of your community, and increase the value of your property!
If you needed a reason to plant a tree, then this is the article for you. Continue reading to learn about the many benefits of trees, ultimately a giant list of why you need to plant a tree (or 3) now!
Stay Cool & Shady
It’s no secret that trees provide shade. I have memories from working at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research & Extension Center of sitting under a giant oak tree during my lunch breaks to eat and read. There was a bench underneath, and the oak always provided the perfect shaded area I needed to escape the summer heat.
Side Note: If you haven’t been to the Extension Center before, you need to go! It’s in Virginia Beach off of Diamond Springs Rd, and they have several demonstration gardens. It’s a great place to see what a plant will look like at full maturity in the Hampton Roads climate. Best of all, it’s free!
- Trees reduce temperatures by shading surfaces, dissipating heat through evaporation, and controlling air movement.
- Shaded surfaces may be 20–45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials.
Save energy and $$
The shade that trees provide can actually help you save on your energy bill to heat and cool your home. Trees help conserve energy by providing shade from the hot summer sun and sheltering us from cold winter winds.
- Just 3 trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and can save 20–50% in energy used for heating – an average household saving between $100-$250 in energy costs annually.
- Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses at least 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Fight Climate Change
Wish you could do more than recycling and reducing your carbon footprint to combat climate change? Trees have you covered. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb harmful carbon dioxide (CO2), removing and storing the carbon and releasing oxygen back into the air.
- The carbon storage capacity of forests is approximately 3 times as large as the pool of carbon in the atmosphere. If forests are changed, reduced, or eliminated, the captured carbon goes into the atmosphere as CO2.
- A single tree stores on average 13 pounds of carbon annually.
Trees don’t just absorb CO2. They also absorb odors and pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ammonia, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and small particles less than 10 microns.
- It’s estimated that one tree can absorb nearly 10 pounds of polluted air each year.
- Removal of particulates amounts to 9% across deciduous trees and 13% across evergreen trees.
- Trees have been known to be useful for filtering sewage and chemicals from farms and cleaning up heavy metal pollution, organic pollutants, animal waste in water, and roadside spills.
Mitigate Water Runoff and Quality
During heavy rains, water runoff finds its way to streams, lakes, and wetlands, carrying pollutants along the way. Leaf canopies help buffer the falling rain and their roots hold the soil in place, encouraging the water to seep into the ground rather than run off. This in turn helps protect stream banks, reduce flash flooding, and recharge underground aquifers.
- For every 5% of tree cover area added to a community, run-off is reduced by approximately 2%.
- There’s 37,500 tons of sediment per square mile per year from developing and developed landscapes — trees could reduce this value by 95%.
Tree roots grow deep into soil, helping hold both the tree and the soil in place.
- 10,886 tons of soil saved annually with tree cover in a medium-sized city.
Provide a Home for Wildlife
If I had to pick, this is my personal favorite benefits of trees. Not much is better than a lazy day, sitting outside, and watching the wildlife among the treetops. Trees are living systems that interact with other living things in sharing and recycling resources.
- Trees create habitat for thousands of different species, providing nesting sites, food and shelter.
- If you want to attract a lot of native birds and wildlife, plant trees! Lowest bird diversity is in areas of mowed lawn — highest in area of large trees, greatest tree diversity, and brushy areas.
Increase Home/Business Value
Community trees and forests provide value for businesses and homes. It’s all about curb appeal, and trees make your property more beautiful.
- Studies of comparable homes with and without trees show that, if you have trees in your yard, your home’s value increases by up to 19%.
- When given a choice, customers prefer to patronize businesses that have trees in front of the building over those that do not.
People have a behavioral need for contact with trees.
- One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
- Stressed individuals looking at slides of nature had reduced negative emotions and greater positive feelings than when looking at urban scenes without trees and other plants.
- Hospital patients with natural views from their rooms had significantly shorter stays, less pain medicine required, & fewer post-operative complications.
- Trees in cities helps to reduce crime rates by approximately 50%.
- Children do much better in school when they have a view of green space and can spend time playing in nature.
Products For Our Use
Trees produce many important products that we use in our daily lives, including wood, paper products, and food.
- Other useful products from trees include cinnamon made from the bark of the Cinnamon Tree, Willow bark as a form of natural aspirin, and fibers from Hemp used to make rope and clothing.
- By planting fruit or nut trees in your yard, you can produce abundant food for yourself and your family, and perhaps even enough to share with friends, neighbors, and others in your community.
Give to Future Generations
Trees can live hundreds of years, so when you plant one, you’re giving a gift to your children and grandchildren. It’s a symbol of your commitment to the environment and the beauty of the world around you that will live on far beyond your own lifetime.
Hands down, planting a tree is one of the most powerful, easiest, and affordable things you can do to have a positive impact on the environment. You now know about many of the benefits of trees, so what are you waiting on?
Fall is the perfect time to plant trees. Help yourself and the planet, we all deserve it!
Authored by Katie Plummer, Jack Frost Director of Marketing and Communications