One of the best investments a homeowner can make is a glorious stand of healthy trees as part of a well-landscaped yard. Realtors across Texas and the rest of the country know that healthy trees can increase the property value of a home, as well as provide years of aesthetic benefits to owners.
Most trees and shrubs in are planted to provide beauty or shade – two excellent reasons for their use. But the benefits of trees can be grouped into social, community, environmental and economic categories – where benefits are reaped by many more than the homeowner.
First, having trees around just makes life more enjoyable, and most people respond to the presence of trees beyond simply admiring them. Tree-lined streets mean established neighborhoods, roots – quite simply, a sense of “home.”
They also give us a sense of serenity, even a sense of peace. According to the International Society of Arboriculture, hospital patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when their hospital room offered a view of trees. The strong ties of people and trees are also evident in efforts by developers to preserve as many trees as possible in new subdivisions, in the zeal of community members to save particularly large or historic trees, and in the desire to plant trees to serve as living memorials or to commemorate special events.
One family in our neighborhood has a tradition of planting a tree to remember each child’s first birthday. As their children grow, they become aware of the tree and its significance and chart its growth – much like the kids’ parents are charting their children’s.
Plant a Tree, Raise Your Property Values
Realtors estimate that the property values of landscaped homes with trees are 5 to 20 percent higher than those of non-landscaped homes. And the economic benefits of trees can be both direct and indirect.
For example, energy costs like air conditioning are lower in a tree-shaded home, and heating costs are reduced when a home has a tree to act as a wind-shield. And if you live in a newer house where the developer had to sacrifice trees to build your house, it’s best to start early and plant some more. Why? Because trees increase in value from the time they are planted until they mature.
The International Society of Arboriculture notes that the indirect economic benefits of trees are even greater. Lowered electricity bills are paid by customers when power companies are able to use less water in their cooling towers, build fewer new facilities to meet peak demands, use reduced amounts of fossil fuel in their furnaces and need fewer measures to control air pollution. Communities can also save if fewer facilities must be built to control storm water in the region. Reductions in these kinds of expenses can total thousands of dollars for a community – which in turn benefits everyone who lives there.
Trees also contribute natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban surroundings, which increase the quality of life for residents of the community. They also alter the environment in which we live by moderating climate, improving air quality, conserving water and harboring wildlife.
Homeowners can work with Mother Nature by planting small or deciduous trees on the south side of homes to preserve the sun’s energy in winter. If your backyard is occasionally a wind tunnel, the more compact the foliage on a tree or group of trees, the greater the influence of the windbreak. So keep that in mind when selecting the best trees for your home.
The Right Trees
There is a way of choosing the right tree for your home and property. Many homeowners make the mistake of deciding what kind of tree they want and then trying to fit it into their landscape. It’s much better to decide where a tree is needed and what that tree should do in the landscape. After that’s done, it will be much easier to select a species to fulfill these requirements.
In Texas, there’s a saying that if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. Sunny days can turn into raging storms at the drop of a cowboy hat, so it’s best to select trees that can weather the storm. Avoid trees that are overly susceptible to storm damage, ones that could be hosts to destructive pests and those that produce a lot of seeds or fruit.
Tree choices will often depend on existing conditions at your home. Texas soil varies greatly from area to area, so check with the local nursery to see which trees will grow best. Homeowners will also need to consider making room for top and root growth, soil type, drainage and kind of plants you might want to grow under the tree.
Since a tree is a long-term investment, it’s important to start with a high-quality plant. In the case of trees, money definitely buys quality. Trees that are 8 to 10 feet tall – either balled and wrapped in burlap or established and growing in containers – are usually the best buy. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $200-$300 to $1,000 for a quality tree.
A reputable nursery will usually help select the tree and will offer a guarantee that it’s healthy; if not, homeowners should be able to return it. Most nurseries will also take care of planting the tree in your yard. Neighbors recently spent more than $700 on four trees for their bare backyard, and reaped the benefits of the nursery’s policy on free installation when customers paid more than $100 for a tree. It was a great deal for them, and the trees are all thriving because professionals handled the job.
Water, Prune and Mulch
Trees require maintenance and a little TLC to thrive in any landscape, but especially your backyard. The good news is that the informed homeowner can handle much of this work. For example, pruning and mulching will give trees a good start. And of course, watering them regularly to feed thirsty roots goes without saying. If you are lucky enough to have huge, established oaks and maples for shade trees, however, they might need the services of a professional arborist with the knowledge and equipment needed to prune, spray, fertilize and otherwise maintain a really large tree. Any full-service garden center will be able to answer questions about tree maintenance, treatments or recommend someone who can help.
Trees definitely require an investment, but it’s one that will provide years of enjoyment, as well as economic and community benefits. In fact, in a recent issue of the Kiplinger financial magazine, there was an article on the 25 best ways to invest $1,000. At the top of the list was buying a big tree. Happy planting.
For more information, visit TexasRealEstate.com. For professional services, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.