Healthy trees and a reasonable amount of tree cover provide Connecticut residents and visitors with many benefits. While some benefits are obvious (like providing shade on a hot summer day), others may be things you’ve never heard or thought about before.
After reading this, we hope you’ll be inspired to plant a few trees on your own property!
The complicated history of Connecticut’s trees
According to historians and scientists, about 90% of pre-colonial Connecticut was forest-covered. And while Connecticut remains one of the most densely forested states, the amount of the state that has tree cover has changed a lot over the years.
At one point, only about 25% of the state was covered with trees. Early colonial settlers removed trees to create farmland, to use as fuel, and to create wood products such as furniture, leading to severe deforestation.
Today, CT has around 50-60% tree cover. Unfortunately, foresters predict that due to urban expansion, that number will begin to decrease again.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Connecticut state tree is the white oak. One, the Charter Oak, was famously used to hide documents from the British.
Trees make Connecticut a popular destination
Many people visit Connecticut each fall to take in the beautiful fall colors (we’ve all seen “leaf peepers” out and about in autumn!). Oak furniture is a popular commodity made from our trees. People love to be surrounded by the natural calming nature of trees, so more and more people vacation here (or even move here) to take advantage of that. Plus, the native forests encourage wildlife diversity, which is valuable to photographers, birdwatchers, and hunters alike.
Given all that, it’s easy to see how forests can benefit the area, the state, and, with the loss of trees worldwide, the world.
But why would planting a tree or two on your own property make any difference? Keep reading to learn how trees can benefit you directly.
Trees save (and make!) you money
There’s nothing quite like enjoying some shade in your own backyard. Trees not only provide that shade and reduce glare, but they also help you save on your energy bill.
Because of their shading properties, as well as a process called transpiration (in which trees release water from their leaves), the area around a deciduous tree can be several degrees cooler in summer.
Evergreen trees are great as a windbreak to block cold winter air; plant them on the side of your house that faces the prevailing wind on your property.
Want to know how much a tree does/would save you each year? There’s a calculator where you can find out! Just enter the tree type, the size of the trunk, and your zip code.
We entered the zip code 06607 into the tree benefits calculator and chose a white oak with a 10-inch diameter trunk. The calculator showed us that a white oak tree of that size provides benefits worth $105 each year. If the tree were to grow to 15 inches in diameter, it would provide even more – $153 each year!
>> Go here to try the tree calculator and see how much money trees can save you
But that’s not the only way trees put money in your pocket.
People move to Connecticut in part to enjoy living amongst beautiful trees, so it’s no surprise that trees on your property increase the property value of your home. But did you know that mature, well cared for trees can increase the selling price of your home by up to 20%?
Trees help you breathe better
You probably already know that trees take carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, which is one of the reasons that trees are sometime’s referred to as earth’s lungs.
But did you know that trees also remove other pollutants from the air, and therefore help those with asthma breathe better? With asthma and pollution on the rise, a 2017 scientific study found that asthma attacks were reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods (not just in forest settings!).
Trees literally make you feel better, both physically and mentally
You may have heard of a unique Japanese term that means “spending time in nature”, called forest bathing. The idea is to simply be among the trees. You don’t need to hike or jog or mountain bike or even do yoga to receive the positive effects. It has been proven that just spending time in nature can reduce stress and anxiety, lower heart rate and boost the immune system.
Try it for yourself! Here are some places you can spend quality time with trees:
- Plan a visit to a local or state park
- The Town of Stratford, CT is one of the few towns in America with its own forest, Roosevelt Forest. Check it out!
- Wander around an arboretum. Try the Connecticut College Arboretum or the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens
- Visit any of Connecticut’s Notable Trees, which include the oldest, biggest, or most interesting trees in the state (be sure you have permission if the tree is on private property!)
Can’t make it to a forest? Even looking through a window at trees can improve your health. In a fascinating study, it was discovered that patients at a hospital whose rooms faced a row of trees did significantly better than those whose windows showed nothing but a brick wall. Though the patients were in the hospital for identical procedures, those who looked at the trees needed fewer pain medications, checked out sooner, and had a shorter recovery period.
Trees respect your privacy
Trees are often used as property markers, which helps differentiate which parts of the lawn you need to mow and which areas your neighbor is responsible for.
Depending on the type of tree, several varieties may work well as a privacy hedge. Contact us for our recommendations on which trees would work well as a hedge on your property.
Not only can you restrict the prying eyes of nosy neighbors or a nearby highway or public area, you can restrict what they hear as well – or you can lessen the noise of passing cars. Trees can reduce noise pollution by up to 40% if planted properly.
Trees protect from storms
While this fact might seem backward, it’s true. If you’ve ever had a tree fall in a storm, you might think that the safer option is to not replace it. However, studies have shown that neighborhoods with more tree cover actually fare better in storms, including violent hurricanes!
Just be sure that your trees are prepared for harsh weather by keeping up care and maintenance, including regular watering of newly-planted trees (at the edge of the canopy, not the trunk), professional pruning to allow winds to blow through the tree canopy, and tree health care to keep your tree healthy and pest-free. Contact us if you want to ensure that your trees are ready for summer and winter storms.
The older a tree, the more benefits it provides
It’s important to keep your older trees healthy, as the older the tree the more benefits it provides – both financially and via the benefits listed above. Some trees have the possibility of outliving us and providing benefits for future generations as well.
Unfortunately, we see a lot of trees removed because of preventable issues, whether pests, disease, a bad pruning job, or even the wrong tree planted in the wrong place.
No matter the age of your trees, keeping them healthy can help them live a long life. And if you want to add more trees to your property and take advantage of all of those benefits they provide, contact us for recommendations on the right trees for your property.
Like a Chinese proverb says,
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
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