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Plant Trees, Shrubs
Tree Seedlings | Shrubs | Perenials |
Bulbs | Woodland Plants
Wildflower & Meadow Seeds | Meadow
Most trees and shrubs in cities
or communities are planted to provide beauty or shade. These are two
excellent reasons for their use. Woody plants also serve many other
purposes, and it often is helpful to consider these other functions
when selecting a tree or shrub for the landscape. The benefits of
trees can be grouped into social, communal, environmental, and
We like trees around us because they make life more
pleasant. Most of us respond to the presence of trees beyond simply
observing their beauty. We feel serene, peaceful, restful, and
tranquil in a grove of trees. We are “at home” there. Hospital
patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when
their hospital room offered a view of trees. The strong ties between
people and trees are most evident in the resistance of community
residents to removing trees to widen streets. Or we note the heroic
efforts of individuals and organizations to save particularly large
or historic trees in a community.
The stature, strength, and endurance of trees give
them a cathedral-like quality. Because of their potential for long
life, trees frequently are planted as living memorials. We often
become personally attached to trees that we or those we love have
Even though trees may be private property, their size
often makes them part of the community as well. Because trees occupy
considerable space, planning is required if both you and your
neighbors are to benefit. With proper selection and maintenance,
trees can enhance and function on one property without infringing on
the rights and privileges of neighbors.
City trees often serve several architectural and
engineering functions. They provide privacy, emphasize views, or
screen out objectionable views. They reduce glare and reflection.
They direct pedestrian traffic. They provide background to and
soften, complement, or enhance architecture.
Trees alter the environment in which we live by
moderating climate, improving air quality, conserving water, and
harboring wildlife. Climate control is obtained by moderating the
effects of sun, wind, and rain. Radiant energy from the sun is
absorbed or deflected by leaves on deciduous trees in the summer and
is only filtered by branches of deciduous trees in winter. We are
cooler when we stand in the shade of trees and are not exposed to
direct sunlight. In winter, we value the sun's radiant energy.
Therefore, we should plant only small or deciduous trees on the
south side of homes.
Wind speed and direction can be affected by trees. The
more compact the foliage on the tree or group of trees, the greater
the influence of the windbreak. The downward fall of rain, sleet,
and hail is initially absorbed or deflected by trees, which provides
some protection for people, pets, and buildings. Trees intercept
water, store some of it, and reduce storm runoff and the possibility
Dew and frost are less common under trees because less
radiant energy is released from the soil in those areas at night.
Temperature in the vicinity of trees is cooler than
that away from trees. The larger the tree, the greater the cooling.
By using trees in the cities, we are able to moderate the
heat-island effect caused by pavement and buildings in commercial
Air quality can be improved through the use of trees,
shrubs, and turf. Leaves filter the air we breathe by removing dust
and other particulates. Rain then washes the pollutants to the
ground. Leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form
carbohydrates that are used in the plant's structure and function.
In this process, leaves also absorb other air pollutants-such as
ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide-and give off oxygen.
By planting trees and shrubs, we return to a more
natural, less artificial environment. Birds and other wildlife are
attracted to the area. The natural cycles of plant growth,
reproduction, and decomposition are again present, both above and
below ground. Natural harmony is restored to the urban environment.
Individual trees and shrubs have value, but the
variability of species, size, condition, and function makes
determining their economic value difficult. The economic benefits of
trees can be both direct and indirect. Direct economic benefits are
usually associated with energy costs. Air-conditioning costs are
lower in a tree-shaded home. Heating costs are reduced when a home
has a windbreak. Trees increase in value from the time they are
planted until they mature. Trees are a wise investment of funds
because landscaped homes are more valuable than nonlandscaped homes.
The savings in energy costs and the increase in property value
directly benefit each home owner.
The indirect economic benefits of
trees are even greater. These benefits are available to the
community or region. Lowered electricity bills are paid by customers
when power companies are able to use less water in their cooling
towers, build fewer new facilities to meet peak demands, use reduced
amounts of fossil fuel in their furnaces, and use fewer measures to
control air pollution. Communities also can save money if fewer
facilities must be built to control storm water in the region. To
the individual, these savings are small, but to the community,
reductions in these expenses are often in the thousands of