You might think that you know all of the positive benefits that trees have to offer – a little shade, some oxygen, colorful leaves in fall and/or beautiful flowers in spring.
While those are all true, it barely scratches the surface of all that trees do for us. They’re such a common part of daily life that many of us hardly notice the trees around us, let alone think about what they’re doing for us behind the scenes.
Trees help us breathe and keep us cool
Trees are a natural air filter, catching dust and pollutants from the air and holding it on their leaves. Then, when it rains, the dust is washed off to be absorbed into the soil or flushed down the storm drain. That’s a lot of irritants that we don’t have to breathe!
There have been studies that show that asthma sufferers (and the number of those is growing) breathe better on tree-lined streets largely because of trees’ ability to remove particles from the air.
Trees also cool the area around them. First, they provide shade. On a hot summer day, we’d all love to just sit in the cool shade of a tree! If a tree is shading your house, you’ll save a significant amount in energy costs just because less sun is hitting the roof, walls and windows and heating them up.
Secondly, trees release water as part of the transpiration process, which acts as a natural cooler. The air around trees can be several degrees cooler just from this evaporative effect.
Growing levels of carbon in our air are becoming a bigger deal as cities expand. Thankfully, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, literally helping us breathe better.
Trees make us feel better
Don’t worry, forest bathing doesn’t involve bathtubs, it is merely spending time in nature to reduce stress and increase mental health. To participate in forest bathing, you don’t need to hike or walk or do any specific exercise or activity. The point is to just be in nature. And, surprising to some, it is proven to help. Try it for yourself. The next time you feel stress rising, take a walk in a park or enjoy some screen-free time in your own backyard.
Here are some local areas where you can wander amongst the trees:
- Visit the tulip trees in Morristown National Historic Park that are 150-220 years old for some perspective on time.
- Check out the Metasequoia (also known as dawn redwood) that was just deemed a national champion, which means it is the largest of its type in the country. Admission to the Willowwood Arboretum where it grows is free.
- Go hiking at Columbia Trail.
- Check out any of the nearby Morris County Parks.
Sometimes just looking at green spaces can make us feel better. Hospitalized patients whose hospital room windows faced a tree had faster recovery times, needed less pain medication, and checked out sooner than patients who had had identical procedures but didn’t have a view of trees.
In a study that seems almost unbelievable, a group of scientists was able to determine that adding just 10 trees to a city block “improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000…or being 7 years younger.” Say what? Adding a few trees to a street can make the residents feel younger…and wealthier? The scientists noted that these trees must line the city streets, where more people are exposed to the trees through daily activities and by viewing them from their windows.
Trees impact our behavior
Even though we may not consciously notice the trees around us, those trees can influence what we do (and don’t) do. Humans generally tend to feel more comfortable in treed areas, letting us relax and slow down a bit.
For example, people spend an average of 12% more at businesses on tree-lined streets. Maybe it’s time to plant some trees outside your store or office!
People also drive a bit slower. And, as long as the trees are well-maintained, minor crimes like vandalism and littering are less frequent in green areas.
Trees save us money
We know that trees save us money by lowering utility costs. And this isn’t just in the summer when they provide shade. When planned properly, hedge-like evergreen trees on the north and northwest sides of your property can block the wind and save on winter heating bills.
Looking to sell your house? Houses with mature trees on their property sell for up to 19% more.
Want to know how much money your tree (or a tree that you’re considering planting) could save you? Click here to see a Tree Benefit Calculator. Then, enter your zip code, the type of tree, and how wide the tree’s trunk is. The calculator will do the rest.
For instance, a 20-inch sugar maple tree in Morristown, New Jersey provides benefits of $180 each year. If the tree is well-maintained and grows to 25 inches diameter, it will provide $218 in benefits every year. That’s a significant benefit from something that we don’t often notice!
Trees protect our privacy
Not only can some trees create a dense (and beautiful) privacy barrier to protect you from prying eyes and passersby, they also absorb sound. Some trees can absorb up to 40% of the surrounding noise pollution, meaning that the traffic noises from the nearby highway are reduced (and that your nosy neighbor won’t hear all of your conversations).
Trees create products that we use daily
Some products made from trees are pretty obvious, like hardwood floors or wood crafted furniture. Others are a little less obvious, like cork from cork trees or carnauba wax from palm trees. Paper products such as coffee filters are from trees. Olive oil comes from olives on an olive tree. From pencils to nuts to fruit to cinnamon, products made from trees are all around us.
Trees are an important part of history
In our area of New Jersey, almost everything seems to have been a part of history. And trees are no different. We have some of the oldest trees in the country right here in our backyard, and they are impressive to behold.
For instance, Morristown National Historic Park has trees that have been growing since the Revolutionary War. And check out the list of Madison Landmark Trees for an opportunity to see trees that are unusual or especially old.
Keep Your Trees Healthy For Maximum Benefits
The older a tree, the more benefits it provides (as you probably noticed when checking out the Tree Benefit Calculator). It’s important to keep your trees healthy and well-maintained so they can outlive all of us, providing benefits not only for us but for generations to come.
Now that you know how vital trees are, and just a few of the many things that they do (this article is by no means exhaustive), you may want to add a few more trees to your property!
We can help you choose the best tree(s) for your property and even plant them for you. Improper tree selection, placement, and planting practices are the biggest causes of tree problems (and premature failure) so it’s important to do it correctly. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more!