There's something about that tree – the gentle giant in your landscape that has been there longer than anything else in the neighborhood. It's been there longer than the houses, the perfectly manicured lawns, the beds of overflowing annuals and even the nests of creatures that make homes in that tree's sturdy branches.

Maybe it was the first tree you climbed. It has a sturdy "arm" that held your tire swing. That tree was the backdrop in every family photo, providing shade for picnics and serving as a natural cathedral for a relative's wedding.

We benefit from trees in so many ways – economically, environmentally and socially.

"Trees truly make our lives better," says Davey expert and ISA Board Certified Master Arborist R.J. Laverne. "They make history for families richer, and our children will remember us by the trees we plant. They are truly magnificent, and if we keep them healthy, we can enjoy the environmental, economic and amazing social benefits of having trees in our cities."

Top 10 Benefits Of Trees

Trees do so much for us. In fact, trees do more for us every day – some perks you may not even realize. Here are 10 of the top benefits of tree planting:

  1. Trees help clean our air. They remove pollutants from the atmosphere, improving air quality as they work.
  2. Trees boost good health. A walk among the trees can help relieve daily stress and seeing trees can even speed up healing times for hospital patients.
  3. Trees provide us with fresh air. They release oxygen through photosynthesis.
  4. Trees are cooling. They lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.
  5. Trees absorb carbon dioxide. This may help reduce the impact of climate change on the environment.
  6. Trees reduce energy costs. When you plant trees properly, they can shade a home in summer or protect it from harsh winter winds, keeping it warmer in winter.
  7. Trees provide habitats for wildlife. Birds and small critters like squirrels find food and shelter in trees.
  8. Trees assist in crime reduction. Trees in a neighborhood have been shown to decrease minor crimes and violence.
  9. Trees raise property values. Homes with mature trees have been shown to sell for higher prices and more quickly than those without.

Benefits Of Planting Trees In Urban Areas

Thanks to our trees, we can take a nice, deep breath of clean air. Trees replace the carbon dioxide in our stuffy, urban world with fresh oxygen so we can thrive. Really, trees are like nature's respirators, which adds to the benefits of planting more trees.

Actually, 1 acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 4 tons of oxygen every year, which is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Arbor Day Foundation.

If purifying the air wasn't enough, our trees slow the impact of rain so the soil can better absorb the moisture. "If we simply had pavement instead of trees, that water would run off into sewers, and we'd have higher incidents of flooding, especially for communities around streams," Laverne says.

Meanwhile, those tree roots keep soil in place and reduce erosion, which can be a real problem on slopes. Reducing erosion improves water quality by preventing dirt and debris from entering our streams.

Economic Benefits Of Planting Trees

Tree shade is the cheapest air conditioning around, and it's the cleanest form of cooling you can get. Tree shade keeps buildings cool in summer, so you can stop turning down that thermostat. "That results in lower electric bills," Laverne points out. Plus, less utility reliance means fewer emissions, "and that's a good thing," he adds.

In fact, the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours per day, according to research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in five years your energy bills should be 3 percent less. In 15 years, the savings will be nearly 12 percent," according to Dr. E. Greg McPherson of the Center for Urban Forest Research.

Of course, the primary economic benefit most of us think of when we invest in planting new trees is our property value. Landscaping adds more value to a home than any other renovation. In fact, more than 75 percent of real estate agents across the country say well-landscaped homes are worth 1 to 10 percent more than homes with no landscaping, according to HomeLight research. And the benefits of plants and trees that are well-maintained in your landscape can add 5 to 12 percent more to your home value, HomeLight research reports. "It's a direct financial benefit," Laverne confirms.

And nothing creates curb appeal like a mature tree – one with grand, outstretched branches that welcome visitors, a full show of leaves that creates a natural canopy and character that hints at a rich history.

Isn't it time you plant a tree today? Meanwhile, in our cities, the Arbor Day Foundation notes how trees can stimulate economic development, attract new businesses and drive tourism. Commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly, tenants stay longer, and space in a wooded setting is more valuable to sell or rent.

"Indeed," Laverne says, "the trees in our urban forest are truly valuable from an economic, environmental, and social standpoint."

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