Trees are an essential and invaluable part of the environment. Not only do they provide us with oxygen to survive and improve air quality, they also add character to landscaping and can increase curb appeal and property values.
According to the American Forestry Association, each year a single tree provides:
$73 worth of air conditioning savings
$75 worth of erosion control
$75 in wildlife shelter
$50 worth of air pollution reduction
This results in more than $270 in annual savings, which compounded over 50 years at 5 percent interest, means one tree can equal a value over $57,000.
Georgians lucky to have a vast array of beautiful vegetation to choose from to embellish and protect our natural scenery. Consider these benefits and tips when planning a landscape upgrade:
Shade from trees is natural relief in hot climates and has a direct cooling effect on high temperatures. Properly placed trees and parks can lower the temperature by as much as five degrees. Tree-lined streets can be beautifully designed, and will provide comfort for pedestrians and outdoor enthusiasts on hot days.
Trees help us conserve energy by intercepting radiant heat. It’s possible that trees could reduce summer energy consumption by up to 20 percent. According to American Forests magazine, adding one mature tree in the right location at each home would provide an additional 6.4 percent energy savings. The location of trees is important – a tree planted for shade will be ineffective if planted too far from the building it’s intended to cool.
Urban forestry can increase and conserve biodiversity. Strategically placed trees, combined with shrubs, grasses and other food sources, provide habitats for a diverse population of birds and other animals.
Trees and shrubs create a natural barrier to screen out urban noises, especially when planted in contiguous rows 16 feet or more in width. The physical bulk of trees dulls or softens sound waves that pass through them. The National Arbor Day Foundation states that a row of trees can cut the ambient noise level approximately in half.
Trees, shrubs and grasses are critical to soil stabilization and streamside buffers. They filter out pollutants before they enter watercourses. This helps control bank erosion, protect and enhance aquatic environments and provide wildlife habitats and recreational sites.
Whatever your motivating factor, trees can provide a drastic upgrade to the look and feel of your community. Remember that trees need regular care and maintenance, too. Fallen leaves can affect turf, cause rotting issues and alter pH levels that can cause plant growth to decline. When planned and maintained properly, trees will provide benefits for generations of residents and homeowners.