Most trees and shrubs in cities or communities are planted for the beauty or shade they provide. These are two excellent reasons for its use. However, woody plants also have many other uses and functions, and it is often helpful to consider this when selecting a tree or shrub for the landscape. The benefits of trees can be grouped into social, community, environmental and economic categories.

Social benefit We want to have trees around us because they make our lives more pleasant. Most of us respond to the presence of trees by not just admiring their beauty. In a grove we feel serene, calm, rested and calm; we feel at home. In hospitals, patients recover faster from surgeries when trees are visible from their rooms. The close relationship between people and trees becomes more evident when a community of neighbors opposes the felling of trees to widen the streets. Or when we look at the heroic efforts of individuals and organizations to save particularly large or historic trees in a community. The size, strength and toughness of the trees give them a cathedral-like quality. Because of their long-lived potential, they are often planted as living monuments. We often feel personally attached to those trees that we or our loved ones have planted.

Community Benefits Even if trees are privately owned, their size often makes them part of a community. Because many trees take up a lot of space, planning will be necessary for you and your neighbors to benefit from them. With proper selection and maintenance, trees can function and enhance a property without infringing on the rights and privileges of their neighbors. Trees in cities often serve a variety of architectural or engineering functions. They give privacy, emphasize views or hide those that are unpleasant. They reduce intense light and unwanted or annoying reflections. They direct foot traffic. They provide views, or soften, complement or enhance architecture. Trees provide natural features and habitat for wildlife in urban surroundings, increasing the quality of life for community residents.

Environmental benefits Trees alter the environment in which we live by moderating the climate, improving air quality, conserving water, and sheltering wildlife. Climate control is obtained by moderating the effects of sun, wind and rain. The sun’s radiant energy is absorbed or deflected by the leaves of deciduous trees in the summer, and is filtered only by the branches of those same trees in the winter. We feel cooler when we are in the shade of trees and not exposed to direct sunlight. In the winter we appreciate the radiant energy of the sun and because of this we should only plant small deciduous trees in the southern part of the houses. Wind speed and direction can be modified by trees. The denser the foliage of the trees, the greater the influence of the windbreak. Directly falling rain, snow or hail is first absorbed or deflected by trees, giving protection to people, animals and buildings. Trees intercept water, store some of it, reduce excessive runoff caused by storms and the possibility of flooding. Dew and frost are less common under trees because the ground releases less radiant energy at night in such areas. The temperature is cooler near the trees than away from them. The bigger the tree, the higher the cooldown. By using trees in cities we can moderate the heat island effect caused by pavement and buildings. You can improve air quality by using trees, shrubs, or grass. Leaves filter the air we breathe, removing dust and other particles. Rain washes pollution down to the ground. The leaves absorb carbon dioxide from the air to form carbohydrates that are used in the structure and functions of the plant. In this process the leaves also absorb other air pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, and release oxygen. By planting trees and shrubs, we return to a more natural and less artificial environment. Birds and other wildlife are attracted to the area. The natural cycles of growth, reproduction and decomposition of the plant are once again present, both above and below ground. The natural harmony with the urban environment is restored. Fruit trees provide a display Trees provide flowers in the spring and harvest is in the fall a habitat for wildlife. An evergreen screen provides protection from winter winds and is a barrier that provides privacy Deciduous trees planted two to the south and west sides provide shade and They can reduce the cost of air conditioners between 10 and 15 percent. used to accent the landscape Street trees provide shade and coverage of paved surfaces reducing runoff and reflected heat. Street trees enhance the curb appeal of a neighborhood by increasing property values ​​by 5 to 20 percent.

Economic benefits The value of homes with a garden is between 5-20% more than those without. Individual trees and shrubs have value, but the variability of the species, its size, condition and function complicate the calculation of its economic value. The economic benefits of trees can be direct or indirect. Direct economic benefits are usually associated with energy costs. Air conditioning costs are lower in a home shaded by trees. Similarly, heating costs decrease when the house has a windbreak. The value of trees increases from the time they are planted until they reach adulthood. Trees are a wise capital investment, as homes with gardens are worth more than those without. The savings in energy costs and the increase in property value directly benefit each homeowner. The indirect economic benefits of trees are even greater. These are available to communities or regions. Customers pay cheaper electricity bills when utility companies use less water in their cooling towers, build fewer peak-supply facilities, use fewer fossil fuels in their furnaces, and need fewer air pollution control measures . Communities can also save if fewer facilities need to be built in the region to control storm runoff. For an individual these savings are small, but for the community the reduction of said expenses means a lot of money. Trees require an investment Trees provide many aesthetic and economic benefits, but they also incur some costs. You should know that your trees require an investment to give you the desired benefits. The biggest expense in trees and shrubs is when buying and planting them. Initial care almost always involves irrigation. Removal of leaves, branches and an entire tree can be expensive. For trees to look good in the landscape, they need to be maintained. Much of the maintenance can be provided by the owner. Corrective pruning and mulch application will give the trees a good start. Shade trees, however, grow very quickly to a size where they may need the work of a professional arborist. Arborists have the knowledge and equipment to carry out pruning, spraying, fertilizing and any other maintenance on large trees. Staff at your local garden center, agricultural extension agent, urban forester, or consultant arborist can answer questions about tree maintenance, suggest treatments, or recommend qualified arborists.

The PHC Alternative Maintaining mature landscapes is a complicated task. You might consider a professional plant health care (PHC) maintenance program. acronym), available from many landscape care companies. The program is designed to maintain plant vigor and should initially include inspections to detect and treat any existing problems that could be harmful or fatal. Afterwards, regular check-ups and preventive maintenance will ensure the health and beauty of the plants. See our “Plant Health Care” brochure for more information.

Thanks Spanish translation: Luis A. Moreno, biologist-arborist from Zaragoza, Spain and Jordi i Chueca, landscape architect from Barcelona, ​​Spain. Edited by Iris Magaly Zayas, biologist, urban forestry specialist, USDA Forest Service, Atlanta, Georgia. ISA, PO Box 3129, Champaign, Illinois 61826-3129, USA Email: ©International Society of Arboriculture