Looking for a way to enhance property value, save energy costs, boost mental health, and help the planet in one simple, low-cost step? Yeah, me too. Let me know if you think of something.
Seriously, though, a few well-placed trees in one’s yard typically add at least 5% to a property’s value. Having large older specimens (of trees, I mean) around the house can push that figure close to 20%. In terms of energy savings, deciduous trees on the southern and western sides of a house tend to slash cooling costs by roughly one-quarter.
Trees enrich our lives in subtle ways too. We recover from surgeries and illnesses more rapidly if there are trees in view out our window. Crime rates drop when neighborhoods are planted with trees. Plus, lying under trees might cure acne. OK, not sure on that one.
Giving genuine thought to site and species selection is critical to the long-term survival of landscape trees, and right now is an ideal time to plan for success. Any given location will be great for some trees, yet awful for others. Poor drainage, exposure to deicing salt, restricted root area, overhead wires, and shade are but a few possible constraints. Any these attributes alone can lead to the decline and eventual death of certain trees.
On the other hand, that there are species and cultivars able to mature and thrive no matter what limitations a site has. “Right tree, right place” is an arborist mantra. We have others, like “please clean the dog poop before I come look at your tree,” but I digress.
The point is that sometimes you shouldn’t plant that mountain ash, birch clump, or crabapple right where you had in mind. But another location on the property could be perfect. If you only have one available site, there are always plenty of great selections able to live long and prosper there.
One of my favorite resources on landscape tree selection is a free booklet published by Cornell University’s Urban Horticulture Institute. It’s written largely by Dr. Nina Bassuk, whose work is universally esteemed by arborists. You can get the download at http://www.hort.cornell.edu/uhi/outreach/recurbtree/pdfs/~recurbtre... (No, I’m not at all biased – why do you ask?) Also, Tree Canada has an excellent resource page at https://treecanada.ca/resources/canadian-urban-forest-compendium/8-...
Given our long winters, it’s good to have trees with off-season aesthetic interest. Here are just a few ideas:
ISA-Certified Arborist Paul Hetzler is a former Cornell Extension educator. He’s looking for new mantras.