By: BW Ellis

This article comes from a collection of illustrations, poetry, and prose called Tree Souls, currently under development. See sample pages here:

You will never find a more devoted, more stalwart guardian of your home and neighborhood than the trees that line the street and fill the yard. The greatest line of defense your community can have is a healthy and diverse Urban Forest.

Every day, all day these providers not only produce oxygen for everyone to breath, but their leaves capture pollutants and sequester dangerous toxins protecting you and all you hold dear. The very air you breathe is filtered by the natural processes of these protectors who stand more still than all the soldiers of Buckingham Palace. The shade from their canopies keeps our homes cool reducing the need for air conditioners a contributor to global warming, while their roots mitigate stormwater runoff protecting homes, streets, and sidewalks from erosion.

Our Urban Forests are hard at work providing crucial services to people and wildlife. They make a home for the furry and feathered alike, providing the opportunity for diversity in the otherwise sterile and sparse city.

That beautifully colored bird you marveled at the other day could not exist without trees, nor could all the plain-looking birds. Many people do not appreciate the raccoons, squirrels, and chipmunks that prowl our neighborhoods while we rest snug in bed. Consider this, a single possum can eat hundreds of ticks a night, and skunks eat the grubs in your lawn eliminating the need for poisons that do lasting and somethings permanent harm.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, when street trees are monetized, they have an annual value of over a billion dollars. Monetary values will vary state by state but the bottom line is, trees are a good investment returning $5.82 for every $1.00 spent.

This value translates directly into the equity of your home and therefore the worth of your investment. Adding trees makes your home more valuable, cutting them down makes them less so, it’s simple mathematics.

Open your windows and take a breath, the quality of that air, may depend on how many trees are close by. Fresh clean air surrounds you as you play in your yard, party on your deck, or enjoy the breeze. These are a few of the many benefits provided by these quiet giants.

Parks contribute even more value to your home yet, what would a park be without trees? They invite us in with brilliant color, dappled light, and sweet-smelling air. Parks provide a place for families to connect with nature and each other, away from modern distractions. A green place to play ball, climb or sit, hold parties, jog or walk your dog.

In 1858 Frederick Law Olmsted together with Calvert Vaux, won a contest to design Central Park in New York. Olmsted’s egalitarian ideals would influence his design and the landscape of America. He wanted to create green spaces that were welcoming and accessible to everyone. 

Olmsted was one of the first people to put forth the idea of the “public park”. Whether you use the public park in your town or not, the park trees are your friends and they are working for you.