I Speak for The Trees

by Dave on July 4, 2009

As first seen in Coastal Sussex Weekly, June 11, 2009:

by Eric Wahl

Consider these statistics listed by the Arbor Day Foundation (www.arborday.org):

“The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.”—U.S. Department of Agriculture

“Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home.” — American Public Power Association

“If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%.” —Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research

“A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” —Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers

“In one study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%.” —Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests

“Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.”—Management Information Services/ICMA

“One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.”—U.S. Department of Agriculture

“There are about 60-to 200- million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, and saving $4 billion in energy costs.”—National Wildlife Federation

“Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 – 50 percent in energy used for heating.”—USDA Forest Service

That some serious savings potential!

Travelling throughout Sussex County and observing its rate of growth, I’ve noticed one big similarity in many new developments…little to no landscaping.  Oftentimes, landscaping takes a backseat when it comes to building or buying a new home.  It’s the last thing to get done and first thing to get cut when budgets overrun, not to mention that most new home packages don’t even include landscaping. I hope we can change
this, especially after reading about all the benefits that a properly landscaped home can provide.

Let’s go over a few guidelines that will help you realize the above benefits:

1. Plant an evergreen windbreak in the northwest area of your yard.  During the cold winter months, most weather systems approach us from the northwest, travelling down from Canada, bringing the nip of Jack Frost with them.  By having a natural windbreak in this location, the bitter winds can be diminished before they touch the home and help reduce heating costs.  Use native evergreen trees such as Loblolly Pine (fast growing), White Atlantic Cedar (likes wet locations), and American Holly (the Delaware State Tree).  Other choices like spruces, firs, and additional pines could be used as well; just make sure that they’re not
I SPEAK FOR THE TREES (continued from page 13)

invasive and are suitable to the soil conditions in your area.

2. Plant deciduous trees in the southwest area of your yard.  Deciduous trees are amazing, providing year round interest along with their benefits.  As the sun beats down in the summer months, deciduous trees on the south facing side of your home will provide valuable shade and lower your cooling costs.  And conversely, after they lose their foliage in autumn, the sun’s rays are allowed to pass through their branches and help in heating your home during the winter months.  Be careful in selecting the type of tree and its location: smaller to medium size trees should be no closer than 10 feet from your home, larger trees and trees with extensive root systems should be placed further away so as not to interfere with your foundation.  (Did you know that a tree’s root system usually extends underground just as far from the trunk as do the branches above?)

3. Plant trees near your hardscape areas.  All hardscape areas exposed to the sun absorb its heat, and the darker the material the hotter is gets.  After the sun goes down, this heat is slowly released and actually raises the temperature directly around these areas (known as the heat island effect).  By providing shade over your paved areas, such as patios and driveways, the temperature around your home can be lowered thereby helping to reduce cooling costs.  The heat island effect is one reason why street trees and parking lot landscaping is so important today.  By planning ahead and planting trees along roadways and throughout parking lots, the heat island effect can be reduced, not to mention making our journeys outside the home more enjoyable.

I hope that everyone reading this recognizes the importance of trees in our environment.  With all the benefits they have to offer and the savings they can provide, go and plant a tree today!

PS. Gold Star for those who know where the article’s title comes from – one of the most influential books I read as child and relevant today just as it was more then 30 years ago.

Eric Wahl is a landscape architect with Element Design Group in Lewes.

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