Fall is one of the best times of year to plant trees. Why should you consider planting trees in your yard or on your business property? Because they provide numerous benefits!
First, trees add thousands of dollars to the value of your property. The abundance of mature trees is one of the reasons that the Chautauqua Institution community is so appealing. Mature trees provide shade for your home, business and parking lots, which makes living and working more comfortable. In fact, computer simulations using standard building and tree configurations for cities across the U.S. indicate that shade from a single well-placed, mature tree (about 25-ft crown diameter) reduces annual air conditioning use 2 to 8 percent and peak cooling demand 2 to 10 percent (Simpson and McPherson, 1996). The ambient air temperature difference between an urban heat island and a vegetated area can be as much as ten degrees F. The temperature measured directly above man-made surfaces can be as much as 25 degrees F hotter than the air temperature beneath a forested area (Akbari et. al., 1992; Simpson and McPherson, 1996). Business districts with ample trees are also more attractive to shoppers because they look better, are more pleasing to patrons and are cooler and more comfortable during the summer.
Simply put, trees make us feel better. Several studies indicate that viewing a setting abundant with trees can have a calming effect after stressful incidents, and those neighborhoods rich with tree life provide multiple psychological benefits to their residents. Have you heard of “forest bathing?” Entering a forest for relaxation has proven to be good for your health.
Trees also provide many pollution and storm water control benefits. Ever notice that you can stand under a tree to stay out of the rain? The leafy canopies of trees trap and absorb rainwater. A study by Xiao et al. found that an 8-year old Cork Oak intercepted 27 percent of gross rainfall and a 9-year old Bradford Pear intercepted 15 percent. The tree canopy of Austin, Texas, which covers about 30% of its community, is estimated to reduce storm water flows by 28%, providing that city with an estimated $122 million in avoided storm water capacity (MacDonald. 1996).
Trees and shrubs can also control soil erosion. First, their branches and foliage absorb and deflect the energy of raindrops before they reach the ground. Second, their roots effectively hold the soil in place. It’s also important to leave streamside and lakeshore trees and shrubs in place to avoid soil erosion when developing waterfront lots because the roots are very effective at absorbing nutrients and fertilizers before they reach waterways.
Consider returning parts of your yard to forest. Start with conserving your large trees – they are irreplaceable in your lifetime. Have an experienced arborist trim dead branches and branches that are a threat to buildings. You can assist the growth of wild saplings with the purchase and installation of tree tubes to protect them from rabbits, deer and rodents. Visit local nurseries to select appropriate native trees to plant for your soil conditions. Search “Working Trees for Your Community,” and “Working Trees for Water Quality” on the internet for more information. Also visit https://chautauquawatershed.org/native-species/ for a list of trees and other plants native to the Chautauqua region.
This fall, please plant or nurture the growth of at least one new tree and e-mail the CWC at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that you did!