Why do we plant street trees?
5 new reasons to love your tree
It’s a simple equation; more trees equal a more beautiful streetscape. Is a beautiful street really the reason developers and municipalities plant street trees? Perhaps the more important question is not why a developer plants a tree but how that new street tree benefits you, the homeowner. There are many benefits to planting street trees and increasing an urban canopy, but not all of those benefits are as obvious as others. With that in mind let’s take a look at five different reasons you should love your tree.
A long straight line of street trees will create a vertical wall and also – at full maturity – an overhanging canopy that frames the street and provides a defined edge. This visual tunnel guides motorists movement, and forces speed assessment. Multiple studies from municipal transportation authorities have found people slow down while driving through a treed scape.
A vertical wall of trees will also provide a literal physical barrier between the pedestrians walking and running on the sidewalk and the motorists on the road.
Street tree’s create more pleasant walking environments, bringing about increased outdoor activity, while at the same time encouraging neighbourhood pride. Because of this sense of pride, surveillance of homes and businesses is increased, as is individual accountability. A sense of ownership and care for a neighbourhood creates a more secure environment for all.
Lower energy and repair costs:
Asphalt and concrete streets and parking lots are known to increase urban temperatures 3-7 degrees. These temperature increases significantly impact energy costs to homeowners. Through urban street tree planting, a properly shaded neighborhood can reduce energy bills for a household from 15-35%. Reducing air conditioner use by 30% would save around $57. A tree protecting your home from wind and cold could save you 20% or more on heating costs, or over $120 per year.
A tree will protect your home from the sun, rain and wind but it is often difficult to quantify the financial impact of these elements. As a general rule the more you can protect your home from the impact of natural elements the longer your home will last without needing repairs. Consider this; a tree absorbs the first 30% of most precipitation, that is 30% less rain on your roof and in your eavestroughs. It is also 30% less water needing to be deflected away from your basement with underground waterproofing systems.
Increased Property Value:
Unlike most material purchases, street trees increase in value the minute they leave the nursery and continue to gain worth as they mature. They add to your properties resale or rental value by improving curb appeal. The United States Forest Service and the City of Toronto estimate that trees can increase property values anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. Not-For-Profit organizations such as L.E.A.F. can offer a “Tree benefit estimator” to those living in Toronto and York Region.
Noise: keep out the bad, let in the beautiful:
Properly planted urban street trees can perform dual duties when it comes to noise pollution in our communities. A vertical wall of beautiful trees is the first line of defense against street noise. Acting as a buffer, a mature tree can reduce unwanted street and city noise by up to 6 decibels. In addition to deflecting unwanted noise, a well maintained tree will become a welcome home for animals and songbirds. Developers and commercial landscaping companies maintain strict guidelines for planting only native tree species to help ensure long lasting durability and success. Alongside native tree species come native birds and animals, whose beautiful music will help make your house a home for many years to come.
Less Construction on your street:
Can your little front yard tree really increase the lifespan of your driveway and road? Studies conducted in a variety of California environments show that the shade of urban street trees can add 40-60% more life to costly asphalt. This is based on the reduced daily heating and cooling (expansion/contraction) of asphalt. It might not be the flashiest benefit of a tree but the cost of new driveway asphalt or the inconvenience of road construction might make it a little more exciting.
You are all moved in and unpacked and the commercial landscapers have just put the finishing touches on your newly planted tree. You love your tree because it is full of hope and promise like your new home. Having read this you may now also have a few other, albeit less romantic, reasons to love that tree.