In Praise of Trees

If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably already appreciate trees. Did you know that trees contribute to your well being in ways you may not have considered?

Not all trees are equally well-suited for every planting site or in every climate. Tree
selection and placement are two of the most important decisions a homeowner makes when landscaping a new home or replacing a tree. Many trees have the potential to outlive those who plant them, so the impact of this decision can last a lifetime. Matching the tree to the site benefits both the tree and the homeowner.

Take freeways. Drivers run off freeways into trees. This happens frequently enough that freeway designers recommend roadsides be cleared of trees to at least 38-46 feet from the pavement. However, if you create a parkway with grass and trees in the median, with grassed and treed shoulders, the accident rates go down significantly. Trees help define the roadway’s spatial edge, increase drivers’ safety awareness, and decrease average road speeds.

tree by road

You’ve heard that trees are good for our health. Even seeing trees outside your window is
beneficial. A 1980s study found that gallbladder surgery patients who saw trees outside their hospital windows had shorter hospital stays, gave their nurses more favorable reviews, and took fewer painkillers than similar patients whose view was a plain brick wall.

It’s understood that trees promote human health and longevity. The reverse may be true as well. An article in the Atlantic Monthly reported that where the Emerald Ash Borer was prevalent, the corresponding loss in tree canopy was associated with 6,113 human deaths from respiratory illness and 15,080 deaths from heart disease in the 15 states surveyed from 1990 to 2007.

If you’re a landlord, you should value trees for another reason: The presence of trees on the property brings in higher rent than is received for homes without trees. Your tenants will stay longer, too. And surveyed apartments with mature trees in the landscape had 52% less crime than those without.

Let’s hear it for trees!

Submitted by Michele Stanton, Agent for Horticulture, Kenton Co. Cooperative Extension Service