7 Ways to Maximize Benefits of Planting a Tree in Your Yard

May 26, 2022

For many states, Arbor Day is the last Friday of April. But Plant a Tree Day is typically in late September. Due to climate differences, many places host an annual tree planting day at other times of the year. (Southern States, California, and New Mexico). If you are in the tropics, tree planting days usually are in December. In preparation for National Plant a Tree Day (wherever and whenever), here are some considerations for planting the perfect tree in the ideal spot to maximize the benefits of your new tree. Trees have many more benefits (beyond just beauty and feel-good factor) – especially when thoughtfully chosen and sited in your yard.

a view up a tree

Planting Trees – The Benefits

Tree planting is a big deal. If the tree survives to its full life, it will have a profound positive impact on everything from your home’s property value to the air quality and the quality of life.

Think about it: you are making an indelible mark on the world. The tree you plant might be one of the only genuinely enduring things you do. It will likely be where you put it for generations after you are gone. Because of this, the opportunity to plant new trees is something to be considered and honored.

It should go without saying (but Ill say it anyway) the tree you plant will get considerably bigger, so know that and plan for it. Years quickly pass, and before you think it will happen, mature trees planted too close to your house will become a pruning nightmare and a foundation-upending ordeal.  

There are many instructions for how to plant a tree, but there are quite a few less obvious points to consider when choosing the right tree and planting it in the right place.

7 Things to consider when planting a tree:

1. Plant a tree for Safety

A recent study from the University of Washington shows buildings with high levels of vegetation have 52% fewer total crimes, 48% fewer property crimes, and 56% fewer violent crimes than buildings with low levels of vegetation.

Crime can be an issue in many urban areas. In addition to the University of Washington study, a study by the London School of Economics found that for every 10% increase in tree cover, there is a 15% decrease in violent crime and a 14% decrease in property crime rates.

It is not entirely understood how this works, but it is thought that the presence of trees communicates that an area is cared for by local communities, and that, in turn, reduces criminal activity.

There are some landscape design considerations you should make when adding trees to your yard.

It is never a great idea to conceal the main entry points of your home. Putting a tree or large shrub in a position that blocks the front door sends an uninviting message to your guests and invites the wrong sort of visitor. That is the kind that will take advantage of the opportunity provided by concealment to break into your home.

2. Plant a Tree for Aesthetics  

Like in flower arranging, architecture, or most design disciplines, scale, color, and shape are important considerations.

There is a big difference between an apple tree and a tiny forest of oak trees.  Small and prunable vs huge and imposing, obvious flowers vs. obvious acorns, open habit vs. dense, different shapes, etc.  Every tree has its characteristics, and you should choose based on the fullest set of facts, considering how it will enhance your landscape.

3. The benefits of planting trees are more than you think

Another consideration worth noting is that a larger tree will have a substantially more significant positive impact on climate change (see the carbon dioxide measuring tape for trees).  

Also, all trees are double the size you think they are.  Imagine for every tree you see above ground; there exists a similar amount of structure below ground in the root systems.  These root systems are essential in reducing soil erosion, transferring and storing pounds of carbon dioxide in the soil, maintaining water vapor levels, reducing water runoff, and maintaining healthy groundwater supplies for people and other plants. The benefits of planting trees are more than you might realize. 

How to plant a tree - 7 forgotten considerations

4. A Tree benefits an ecosystem 

Trees invite other creatures and create a wildlife habitat. Songbirds, squirrels, and a whole host of small mammals and tiny animals will inhabit a tree. A healthy tree provides a home for urban (and suburban) wildlife. In his book The Nature of Oaks, Doug Tallamy shows how native oak trees are a keystone species for North Americans. Oaks support more forms of life and more fascinating interactions than any other tree genus in North America.

5. Plant a Tree for Energy Efficiency 

A single tree, well placed, can reduce energy costs associated with home heating and cooling. Multiply the effect, and you can see the impact of tree-lined streets on a place overwhelmed by the urban heat island effect.

The urban heat island effect is when cities have higher average temperatures than the surrounding suburban and rural areas. It is caused by an imbalance of vegetation with high heat-absorbing infrastructure (like buildings and roads). Urban canyons can also trap radiant energy, heat, and particulate matter (pollutants) generated by the buildings and the populace.

When choosing where to plant a new tree, consider its cooling effect on your home. Think about where the sun hits your home. Deciduous trees in your house’s southeast, south, and southwest areas can provide considerable shade and natural cooling during the summer (if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere, it would be the opposite).

These same trees will lose their leaves in the winter, and the sun will shine through to warm the house. In both major heating and cooling seasons, you will see a positive impact on your energy bills.

Planting evergreen trees to the North and Northwest of your home can help block winter winds by changing wind patterns over or around the building. These effects have been shown to reduce energy costs by 30 percent or more.

>>>Read How to properly place trees, shrubs, and hedges that can act as natural filters to reduce air pollution and the impact of airborne allergens around your home.

6. Plant a Tree for Stress Relief

Did you know that studies have shown that 5 minutes of looking at a tree reduces your blood pressure and muscle tension?

And it is not just having a view of trees; numerous studies show that exercising in forests further reduces blood pressure and the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Having access to healthy forests (even if they are small and in urban environments) can radically improve our physical and mental health. Become aware of the availability of green spaces in your community and help support more urban trees. On your property, plant your tree where you can see it when you need to.

And finally –

How to plant a tree - the 7 things everyone forgotten

7. Plant a Tree for Posterity 

Only a few of us will be remembered beyond our families years after we are gone. And only a few of us will create things that future generations cherish.

I’ve been trying to convey to my children that their adored pop idols are remarkably fleeting. As are all the things that they have and do. But by planting a tree, anyone can make an enduring mark. Support and help grow a community tree. Choose trees that will help create leafy streets. Larger trees and tiny forests might seem paradoxical to urban settings, but in fact, they are one of the best strategies for combating climate change (with the reduction of pollutant gases like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrogen oxides).

It is the easiest and most beautiful way to give something enjoyable and beneficial to our current world and the future people who will live here. When I think about tree planting in these terms, I suddenly become consumed with thoughts of tree variety (I don’t want my mark to be run of the mill), quality, and ability to thrive where I put it. Like a good winter coat, the investment seems worth it.

Learn more: Find out when your local Arbor day is celebrated.


How to Plant a Tree So It Doesn’t Die

The Disruptors: David Milarch- The Man Who Planted Trees.

5 unique and beautiful flowering trees for northern gardeners

Making a Living Willow Arbor

image from rate my drawings


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