At this time of year, many families bring evergreen trees into our homes. We decorate them with lights, ornaments and garland, and we savor their sweet fragrance. We even sing carols to them: “Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree! Thy leaves are so unchanging.”
There are plenty of reasons to appreciate trees the rest of the year too. Here are just some of the benefits that trees provide.
Trees clean the air.
Trees clear tons of pollution from our air each year. They absorb odors and pollutant gases and filter particulates by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
A US Forest Service study found that urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city because of the fine particulates that they remove from the air. Another study found that people experienced more deaths from heart disease and respiratory disease when they lived in areas where trees had disappeared.
Trees combat climate change.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2). They remove and store the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. An average city tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of CO2 each year and a ton of carbon dioxide over 40 years. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.
Trees clean our water and reduce flooding.
Trees store and filter large amounts of water. They capture rainfall and allow it to flow down the trunk and into the ground below the tree. This reduces flooding and prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to streams, lakes and Puget Sound. Evergreen trees, which hold their leaves year-round, capture far more runoff than deciduous trees.
The urban forest provides concrete benefits to ratepayers. By reducing annual runoff by 2-7 percent, fewer drainage and retention facilities are needed.
Trees increase property values.
People are drawn to homes and businesses near trees. Property values are 7 percent to 25 percent higher for houses surrounded by trees, and consumers spend up to 13 percent more at shops near green landscapes.
Studies have found that access to nature yields better cognitive functioning, more self-discipline, and greater mental health overall. Hospital patients who can see trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature.
Trees make our world more beautiful.
Trees provide a green canopy, colorful fall leaves, spring flowers and evergreens in our gray winters. They can hide concrete walls, parking lots and unsightly views. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare.
Trees provide wildlife habitat.
Wildlife use trees for food, shelter, nesting, and mating. Trees in yards and parks provide valuable habitat and help protect salmon streams.
Trees provide food.
An apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot. Aside from fruit for humans, trees provide food for birds and wildlife.
Trees save energy.
Trees provide shade, which can reduce cooling costs in summer. Evergreen trees can provide a windbreak, reducing winter heating costs.
Help save the planet: plant another tree!
Winter is a great time of year to plant a tree in your yard. It will have time to develop strong roots before the growing season.
Contact us if you’d like to consult on selecting and planting a tree. In the meantime, here are tips on choosing a tree for your property.
Forest Service study finds urban trees removing fine particulate air pollution, saving lives
Trees Linked with Human Health, Study Suggests
Backstory: What is the value of a tree?