August 21

Why Are Urban Trees Necessary?

Trees

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You may have noticed something changing around many towns: there are more trees being planted than ever before. Why is this? People are starting to realize just how important our trees and local vegetation are to our physical and mental well-being. As such, towns across the United States have been adding trees wherever they can.

Not sure why so many towns are investing tax money into this? First you need to understand urban trees and then you can get behind them. If you aren’t seeing these trees planted in your town, maybe now is the time for an initiative.

Read on for more information about urban trees, why they are important, and how you can take care of them.

What Is An “Urban Tree?”

  • Trees planted in areas without a lot of green space
  • Tend to be hardier trees that can withstand pollution
  • Sometimes planted by neighborhood associations, other times by the local government

Urban trees are, simply put, the trees that have been planted in bigger cities where you may not see trees naturally. They are planted in many areas. Sometimes, they will be planted along the street in residential areas. Often, neighborhoods will get trees at the same time and there will be a fee associated with getting your own tree. According to Smart Cities Drive, some organizations sponsor trees in communities in need.

Other times, trees are placed in public areas that are otherwise made of concrete. These could be raised out of the ground, protected by grates, or even contained within small gardens. These trees need to be extremely hardy because they face more contact with humans.

Finally, some urban trees are planted in community parks, gardens, and centers. These trees are naturally worked into the existing landscaping so that they provide an oasis within a concrete jungle.

Why Do We Need Urban Trees?

Credit: Angy DS
  • Helps with physical health and breathing
  • Can help provide sanctuary for those who need space
  • Creates more privacy in public spaces

Of course, the most obvious benefit of an urban tree is that it helps with pollution and air quality. They do this by absorbing CO2 and other dangerous gases that are in the air and, in turn, replenish the atmosphere with oxygen. Communities that have more trees tend to have fewer breathing problems.

Trees are also good for our mental health. Living in a city without any foliage and landscaping can feel clinical and harsh. Studies have shown that having a few areas of greenery and parks can help the quality of life for residents – it is why cities like New York City invest in green spaces, even though that same area could generate a profit if it were to be developed into real estate or commercial properties.

According to the South Carolina Forestry Association, trees can actually help homeowners as well: “Strategically placed trees can be as effective as other energy saving home improvements, such as insulation and the installation of weather-tight windows and doors. Trees can help reduce your heating and cooling costs. Trees save energy through cooling in the hotter months. They provide a windbreak during winter. This results in burning less fossil fuels to generate electricity for cooling and heating.”

Planting Urban Trees

Credit: Ma1974
  • Homeowners with yards may be able to plant trees
  • Be sure to buy trees that are hardy enough for urban areas
  • Be sure to use best practices when planting

If you are interested in planting trees on your own property in an urban area, you first want to make sure that you have enough space. Sometimes, a potted tree might be a better option for you if you have a smaller yard. You will need to think about the span of the branches as well as the spread of the root systems.

At the same time, you need to think about how hardy your tree is. While most trees can withstand some pollution, there are certain trees that are very sensitive. Be sure to get a reading of your soil so that you can understand the potential contaminants you are facing.

According to the Center for Watershed Protection, most people will need to do at least some site improvement before they are ready to plant a tree.

How To Encourage More Tree Planting

  • Plant your own if you can – people follow trends
  • Consider a tree program
  • Go to local meetings to stress the importance of trees

Now that you’ve done some reading about the importance of trees in urban areas, you can start to advocate for them. There are plenty of other resources out there to help you start gathering information.

You can also start planting your own trees and see who follows suit. Most people wouldn’t think about getting potted trees in more crowded areas. Once you buy one, you may be surprised to see how quickly others do the same. Many people miss trees and don’t even realize it!

One of the best resources comes from the Arbor Day Foundation: “According to Harris, more than 2,400 communities across the United States have been awarded Tree City USA status. They range in size from tiny Calvin, North Dakota (population 26) to Los Angeles, California (population 3.2 million). The results of the forestry programs in these communities touch the lives of more than 88 million people. To obtain information about the Tree City USA program, write: The Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410.”

Contact Menchhofer Tree Care for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down – and of course, any seasonal problems that you might have with your trees. If you are having trouble making decisions about how to best care for your tree, we are here to help. Remember that acting sooner rather than later will help you to get the most out of your trees and keep your home safe.

Call us today at 317-661-4240.

Header photo courtesy of Petras Gagilas on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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