How planting trees can make you money
Perhaps money really does grow on trees.
Here are four specific ways planting new trees contributes to your environment, your community and your pocketbook.
Trees increase property values. A tree positioned in front of a house increases its sale price by an average of $7,130. A study in Portland, Oregon, showed the presence of street trees increased house sale prices by an average of $8,870. The planting of trees added $1.1 billion to Portland's property value, with a relatively tiny annual maintenance cost of $4.6 million.
They reduce energy bills. Strategically placed, they can save up to 56 percent on annual air-conditioning costs. Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce summer air-conditioning costs by up to 35 percent. In winter, trees, especially evergreens, placed appropriately around the house can reduce the need for heating by 20 percent to 50 percent by blocking cold winds.
They sell homes. Surveys show mature trees in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7 percent to 19 percent. Homeowners achieved a 109 percent return on every landscaping dollar spent -- higher than any other home improvement.
Trees are good for your health. Parks and their abundance of trees improve physical and psychological health, strengthen communities, and make neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work.
Homebuyers prefer homes close to parks, open space, and greenery.
In Boulder, Colorado, a greenbelt added $5.4 million to the total property values of one neighborhood. In 50 years, one tree produces $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
Because of our warmer-than-usual winter, today is an ideal time to plant a tree. Some of the best trees to plant in the Chicago area are:
• Bur oak: A large shade tree for spacious yards and other areas where it has lots of space to grow.
• Kentucky coffeetree: Perfect for urban homes because it's tolerant of pollution and thrives in a wide range of soils.
• Ironwood: Resistant to many diseases and insects. Growing to be about 30 feet tall, this tree is classic, understated and unfussy.
• American hornbeam: Native to Chicago, this tree is perfect in shady landscapes and woodland gardens. Plus, it offers color and interest all year long.
• Sargent crabapple: In spring, this dwarf crabapple delights with pink buds that soon transform into fragrant, white flowers.
• Redbud: A true beauty and a Chicago native, this small tree offers purplish-pink flowers in spring.
Avoid planting too close to your house, as shade trees have large roots that can damage your home's foundation.
Trees that grow 30 feet tall should be positioned at least 10 feet from the foundation and utility lines. Distance is 15 feet for those that grow 30-70 feet tall. And, trees that grow more than 70 feet tall need 20 feet of space.