The Value of Trees
Have you ever driven through a neighbourhood admiring the trees? Does your neighbour’s magnolia make you smile when it blooms? Do you look forward to seeing trees leaf out in the spring, and change colour in the fall?
Trees are a wonderful addition to any home and can add significant value to your property and neighbourhood. But many homeowners take their trees for granted, not realizing that urban trees need our help in the form of ongoing maintenance and professional care to help them survive and thrive.
The Benefits of Trees
Homes with mature trees are often in particular demand because they:
- enhance the look and value of the neighbourhood,
- add curb appeal,
- offer privacy and shade,
- support wildlife and the local ecosystem,
- clean the air,
- reduce energy costs, and
- contribute to a sense of well-being.
Smaller trees such as lilacs, Japanese maples and magnolias, and bushes of all sizes, are also valuable additions when pruned. Since they are usually lower-growing, they can create a layered look by incorporating varied heights in your landscaping. This is a visual draw.
What’s the Financial Value of Trees?
You’ll find many articles, appraisals and studies quoting a variety of statistics, but I think it’s fair to estimate that trees add between 5% and 15% to a home’s value. In addition to improving a property’s appeal, during the summer trees provide shade which lowers air conditioning costs. During the winter they provide windbreaks which to buffer heat loss. Determining a value for specific trees is also possible, though not often needed.
When the time comes to sell your home, attractive, well-managed landscaping adds value by creating great curb appeal and a positive first impression for buyers. This can result in a shorter time being listed for sale and a higher sale price. Conversely, trees with dead branches, or signs of pests or disease, and unkempt shrubs and garden beds, often leave buyers wondering what else has gone uncared for in the home.
Work with Experts
Professional arborists spend their careers focused on trees and their knowledge and experience allow them to assess hazards to people, property and power lines, as well as the health of the tree. You should hire a reputable arborist every 2-4 years, to thin branches and if needed, brace and cable to protect and lengthen a tree’s life. Shaping a tree will help it withstand wind and stormy weather. Feeding, if needed, helps ensure trees grow healthy and strong in poor urban soil.
As a homeowner, there is plenty you can do too. Cut off suckers around the base of young trees, ensure your trees are watered during extreme dry spells and keep an eye out for pests, leaf problems and other signs of disease.
Plant New Trees
If you have recently lost a tree, or want to add trees to your property, the City of Ottawa recommends the following large tree types:
• American Beech
• Balsam Fir (evergreen)
• Birch, either White or Yellow
• Bitternut Hickory
• Black Cherry
• Maples (Red, Silver, United (hybrid), Sugar)
• Oak, either Red or Bur
• White Pine (evergreen)
• White Spruce (evergreen)
Before planting make sure you know the soil, water and light requirements of your chosen tree, as well as their average height at maturity and root growth. You should also request a “locate” before you plant, to ensure you don’t damage any underground cables.
The City also has a Trees in Trust program, which supplies and installs trees (you can choose which tree you like from a limited selection) on city property in front of your home. Trees are typically distributed and planted in the spring and fall and there is no charge to the homeowner, though there are conditions that apply.
Let me know if you’d like recommendations or referrals to Ottawa arborists, or advice on how to improve your landscaping and curb appeal. I am always happy to help!