What Are Trees Worth?

That shade tree in your yard or by the street, is it worth any money?

Photo by J Brough Schamp

Worth any money to whom, you may ask.

Worth money to your family:

  • Your shade tree can save up to 56% of summer air-conditioning costs;
  • An evergreen tree can save up to 3% of winter heating costs;
  • Large specimen trees can increase property value by 10%;
  • Each large tree in front can add 1% to your house sale price.

Worth money to your family and your neighbors’ families

 Your tree improves our air quality by

  • Absorbing pollutants through its leaves (ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide);
  • Intercepting particles (dust, ash, smoke), releasing oxygen;
  • Lowering air temperatures (which decreases ozone production);
  • Reducing emissions by power plants by decreasing energy needs;
  • Protecting your family’s health. How much is saved by avoiding asthma attacks, headaches, lung and heart diseases, and cancers due to air pollution?

Your tree helps keep your basement dry, and those of neighbors downhill, and helps decrease those huge pools at our intersections by

  • Intercepting and holding rain water on leaves and bark to evaporate;
  • Taking up water through the roots, and transpiring it back into the air.

Consider the Willow Oak in our yard, planted 17 years ago. Measured at
4 1/2 feet from the ground, 53 1/2 inches around, diameter is 17 inches
(C = π d, right?). The Tree Benefit Calculator says it saves us $137 this year, and as it grows it will save more!

The financial benefits from this one tree

  • 114 kilowatt hours of cooling this summer
  • 4 therms of natural gas for heating next winter
  • Property value increased by about $76 this year
  • Keeping our basement dry as well as those of our neighbors downhill, it takes up 3,837 gallons of stormwater this year alone.
  • For our family and the neighborhood, it cools the air, and captures air pollutants and decreases their production, contributing to our health.

Try this Tree Benefit Calculator to see how much economic and environmental value your tree contributes, and how much might be lost if you take down a tree:


Don’t Mulch That Tree! And Other Tips

Shade Trees Help Make Towson A Desirable Neighborhood

Trees increase property values, clean air pollution, control water run-off, provide shade which cools the whole neighborhood, and help create a lovely, vibrant community.

So why do people hurt trees? Sometimes people are trying to do the right thing but do not know they are actually causing disease, die-back, and early death of trees.

Tree Health Damaged By Mulch

Please stop mulching around trees.  That is the advice of horticulturalists who are observing many young trees’ failure to thrive, with infections at the base of trees where mulch touches the bark, and die-back of the top of trees that have too much deep mulch and dirt piled over their roots.

Tree bark is like humans’ skin, as it will break down if kept in moisture and away from air. Infections with insects, bacteria and fungus can then attack. To protect the bark,

Do Not Allow Mulch To Touch The Tree

Tree roots need air and water. Deep mulch will keep air and water from reaching the roots, and lead to substances that are toxic to roots. To try to get air, small roots grow up into the mulch, but these are more susceptible to drought, stress and wind.

Tree mulch
The wrong way to mulch a tree.

Use Less Than Two Inches Of Mulch, If Any

Tree tops will be thin and show unhealthy “die-back” when trees get sick from deep mulch or from mulch touching their trunks for too long. Like humans, trees try to fight infections and other insults, but eventually they can get very SICK. And then they can die early.

More advice from a local landscape architect .