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The Many Surprising Benefits of Trees

green trees lining a path

 

What if there was a machine that could remove excess carbon from the air? Or one that could prevent soil erosion? You know what would be great? Something that cooled the air around it outdoors and provided shade. Or maybe hospitals could use some sort of program that lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, and shortened the length of recovery times.

You may or may not have seen this coming, but such a thing does exist. It’s called a tree.

Shady Characters

You never truly appreciate how wonderful shade is until you are stuck in the hot, sweltering sun. But if you’ve ever ducked under the shade of a tree during an Ohio heat wave, you know the instant relief that it provides.

Shade from trees can significantly reduce energy costs

If you plant deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter), plant those that grow tall with high, spreading crowns on the south side of your house – this will provide plenty of shade on your roof in the summer. Those with branches lower down can be planted on the west side, as they will shade your home when the sun is lower in the sky.

Those same trees will lose their leaves in the winter, allowing the winter sun to shine on the house, providing some warmth.

In cold climates like ours, planting a tree (especially an evergreen) on the south side of your home will block some of that winter sun so we don’t recommend it.

You can, however, also plant trees to provide a windbreak, keeping your home warmer in the winter. Plant conifers on the north and northwest sides of your property to save up to 30% on heating costs.

Trees aren’t just cool, they help keep you cool!

“But,” you may say, “structures that provide shade can cool off my property too, and then I don’t have to rake up leaves in the fall.” Well, did you know that trees also lower the air temperature around them? It’s true! Through a fascinating process called transpiration, trees release moisture from their leaves, cooling the area around them by up to 10 degrees. It’s sort of like how our body sweats to cool us down, but this version of “sweating” can have positive effects even a few feet away.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

Let’s Talk $$$

Money may not grow on trees, but that doesn’t mean that trees don’t save (or sometimes make) you money!

Calculate the money your trees save you

The Arbor Day Foundation website has a “tree calculator”, where you can find out the actual dollar amount of benefits that a tree can provide.

For instance, we plugged in our zip code and entered a Scarlet oak with a 10-inch diameter. The calculator figured out that a tree of that type and size provides benefits worth $105 each year! If the tree is cared for and grows to 15 inches, those benefits will grow to $153 each and every year. Nice!

How about making you money?

Especially if well-cared-for, a healthy, mature tree can raise the property value of your home by up to 20%!

If you have a business on a tree-lined street, you’re in luck! People tend to spend more money at shops and stop more often at businesses that are located on tree-lined streets. They also drive better and commit fewer small crimes and acts of vandalism. Of course, these behaviors are unconscious, but we seem to be more comfortable overall in areas with trees.

Ecological Advantages of Trees

Reduce rainwater runoff

Trees, including and especially trees in urban areas, can slow the flow of rainwater during and after storms, preventing flooding issues. The trees absorb water, their root systems prevent untreated runoff from flowing through the stormwater system and into local waterways, and they filter out chemicals from asphalt and concrete.

While this may not seem like an important benefit, it can impact things like the quality of our drinking water, aquatic life (that may later become a fish dinner), and the health of the general ecosystem in our area.

See an interactive stormwater poster on the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Prevent ground erosion

Tree’s leaves catch water as rain falls from the sky, preventing the raindrops from eroding the ground. Additionally, the root system of trees stabilizes the ground, which also reduces erosion. This can be particularly important when trees are planted near bodies of water.

Trees don’t just benefit us

Have you ever stopped to think about how many things you use daily that come from trees? Coffee filters, wine corks, hardwood floors, furniture, car wax and chewing gum all originate from different kinds of trees. Not to mention the nuts and fruit that we are able to grow on trees.

Other species depend on trees for food and shelter as well. Here at Independent Tree, we know that the more life on your property, the healthier your land is. Evidence of wildlife, including birds, squirrels and even deer, are results of a healthy ecosystem. When you have healthy trees, they sometimes serve as a safe place for a bird to build a nest, a spot for an animal to shelter during a storm, or a cool spot on a hot summer’s day.

Trees Improve Health

Forest Bathing

Have you heard about the Japanese practice of forest bathing? You don’t need to bring soap on your next hike – the term refers to being surrounded by trees and bathing in their benefits.

The great thing about forest bathing is that you don’t have to do anything. No yoga, running, climbing, or even hiking is necessary. Just being around trees reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves how well your immune system functions.

Where to spend time in the trees

Want to spend some time wandering in nature in our neck of the woods? Plan a visit to the A.B. Williams Memorial Woods in the North Chagrin Reservation, where trees as old as 400 years old can still be found.

Or visit the Bradley Woods Reservation, a swamp forest, to see some truly unique natural wonders. Be sure to check out the monarch butterfly waystation while you’re there.

We always love visiting the Holden Arboretum. How can you go wrong with 3,500 acres of trees and plants?

Gaze at Nature for Faster Healing

In a fascinating study, scientists observed two groups of patients at a hospital that were recovering from the same procedure. One group had a hospital room that looked out at a grove of trees. The other had a view of a brick wall. Those whose window faced the trees requested less pain medication, were discharged earlier, and had a shorter recovery period.

Doctors in Scotland have noticed the healing effects of nature and are now prescribing it to patients.

Trees affect how you feel

In another study, scientists discovered that “having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000…or being 7 years younger.” So, in other words, you feel richer and younger when your home is surrounded by more trees.

Ready to Plant More Trees?

No matter how you look at it, being surrounded by more trees is a good thing.

While the older and well-maintained trees provide the most benefits, any trees you plant now will provide benefits for yourself and for future generations. Just be sure to plant the right tree in the right place, or it may have to be removed later.

Contact us if you have any questions about tree planting, tree removal, or how to ensure your trees remain healthy and provide benefits for years to come.

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