There have been countless studies done on the effects of trees on human health. So many in fact, that there can be no doubt on the positive effects that nature has on our bodies and minds. However, some of the results might actually surprise you.
In addition to providing beauty to an area, there are many additional reasons why you should plant a tree. Trees provide us with shade, mental clarity, and clean air. They make our cities walkable and turn our yards into places for our children to play. If you’ve ever relaxed under a tree, you know what I’m talking about.
However, some tree facts might be a little more shocking than others. I’ve dug up some of the most unusual reasons to plant a tree in your yard, near your curb, or by a sidewalk. Which of these surprised you?
Trees Make Your City More Walkable
Tree’s make someone's outdoor space naturally feel more walkable. No proof needed here: simply picture a shaded lane in the summertime, versus an unshaded one and you’ll get the picture. One is pleasant and romantic, the other just sounds hot.
If that doesn’t convince you though consider this: trees are a great way to stop cars from hitting pedestrians - they make great natural sidewalk barriers. Many cities actually plant trees near sidewalks to slow down cars! So if you have children or pets in need of protection, consider planting a tree between the sidewalk and the street. It could literally save a life.
Trees Can Make People Smarter
Even when taking into account other factors like income, studies showed that children perform better when there are trees on their school grounds. Students also have been shown to have a higher graduation rate when their classroom window faces a tree. Will trees get your kids into an Ivy League School? That’s unclear, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Trees don’t just affect the mental health and smarts of school children. Studies also show that college students are more likely to perform well on a test if they can see a tree from their dorm room window. Trees and plants actually have been shown to boost the productivity of office workers. That means that even if you don’t have children, the benefits of planting a tree (or even just purchasing a houseplant) can be drastic.
Trees Reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect
The Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI) is a well-documented phenomenon. It happens when urban areas remove green things and replace them with concrete, asphalt, and windows. In fact, a major city devoid of greenery can be up to 22 degrees warmer than the outlying area. This fact has some major implications on human health as well as economics. Think about it: on a hot day, its going to cost you more to cool your home. If you can’t afford to cool your home, what happens when the weather is 122 degrees? People start dying, unfortunately. Especially children and the elderly.
Combatting this is actually a lot easier than it sounds: simply plant a few trees and watch your shady lawn become a cooler place to be. For urban planners, this means turning your city into a dedicated Biophilic City. For those in charge of building new apartments, stores, or other buildings consider going out of your way to include green roofs, shaded yards, and more landscaping. The savings honestly do add up.
Trees Heal People
Trees may not make you immortal, but they certainly can help. Residents are less likely to get heart or lung disease when their neighborhood streets are lined with trees. Who here doesn’t want a healthier heart?
In fact, a study based in Toronto, Canada, proved that when there are 10 or more trees on a city block, residents' health shot up. This health benefit was actually the equivalent of being seven years younger. So no, maybe trees don’t make you immortal, but they make you seem younger. Do you really need any more convincing than that?
Trees Reduce Mental Illness
In New Zealand, a study found that trees boosted mental health.
Many environmentalists have been talking about the benefits of nature for years, and labeled as hippies. Now that it’s actually been proven by science to be true, we forgive you.
Trees have been shown to actually reduce blood pressure and stress-related illnesses. We could all use a little less stress in our lives (2020, am I right?).
So get to planting!
Trees Hide Things
Ok so this one is pretty laughable, right? However...well, it’s true.
A strategically planted tree can hide an unsightly wall, drainage ditch, or blemish on your property. Additionally, trees actually block sound from roadways, meaning that a row of well-placed trees can make your home and yard a quieter place.
So besides all of the other benefits of trees, a clever designer can utilize a well-placed oak to turn a blah scene into something beautiful. Aesthetics are everything these days. Instead of letting an ugly air conditioner ruin the aesthetics of your home, why not plant a shrub and skyrocket the value of your home?
When you’re ready to plant a new tree or shrub in your yard, keep these unusual tree facts in mind. Not only can trees provide us with a myriad of health benefits, but they can increase the value of our properties. Health and money? Win-win.
When planting a tree, don’t forget to consider things like climate, planting area, and tree height before you choose your species. Some trees obviously are better suited for certain environments than others.
Plus, it is always helpful to note that some trees have the unfortunate distinction of being invasive species. An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to the area it is planted in. As such, these species can take over the local flora and fauna, reducing biodiversity and causing a whole host of problems.
If you have questions about which trees are appropriate for your home or business lawn, consult with a local nonprofit or your local municipality. There is no use in planting a tree just to have to tear it down in a few years’ time, right?