Thursday, October 17, 2013

Plant a Tree, Pocket $57,000

In South Florida the dry season just began so unless you are committed to watering your tree daily for a while, it might be best to hold off until about April to plant.  But here’s something to think about when you are planting trees!


We often underestimate the value — to the environment and to our pocketbooks — of trees. Spring is a great time to plant a new tree.

By Dan Shapley
"The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!'"
— John F. Kennedy
Planting trees is one of the most basic of environmental acts. It embraces the beauty of nature, helps clean the environment from the moment of planting forward, and sets one's mind on the well-being of future generations.
It also happens to be a smart economic decision. Studies show that trees increase property values and can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs if placed carefully. They also help to reduce air pollution, improve soil and water quality and shield living areas from noisy neighbors — whether those neighbors are people, school playgrounds or highways. The evidence:
  • Strategically planted, trees can reduce home energy use by as much as 30%. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends planting deciduous trees on the east and west sides of your home to provide shade in the summer, but allow sunlight through in the winter. Plant evergreen trees to the north and northwest to shield your home from cold winter winds without blocking winter sunlight.
  • Trees raise property values for the entire neighborhood; a 2010 Forest Service study estimated that "a neighborhood tree growing along the public right-of-way added an average of $12,828 to the combined value of all houses within 100 feet."
  • In 1985 dollars, the Forest Service estimated the value of an individual tree at $273 annually — well over $57,000 over its lifetime. The estimate includes the value of climate control, soil erosion and stormwater management, wildlife shelter and air pollution reduction.
Early spring and late fall, when the climate is moderate and trees are dormant, tend to be the easiest times to successfully plant trees. Look for offers of free and low-cost seedlings from local soil and water conservation districts, municipalities and environmental groups. Those little trees will take years to reach maturity, but that's part of the satisfaction; you can watch your investment — in natural beauty and dollars — grow.