The Many Benefits of Municipal Tree Programs
Trees aren’t just beautiful - they provide a range of environmental, ecological, social, cultural, and economic benefits, to say nothing of the boon to our physical and mental health. It’s no secret that trees have an impact on real estate values too.
We all know that “mature neighbourhood” refers mainly to the tree canopy under which prime homes shelter, and how nice it is to walk through these neighbourhoods, sit on the porches, and admire the autumn colours as the leaves fall.
Neighbourhoods with a healthy tree canopy have cooler temperatures than they otherwise would. Trees absorb pollution and capture carbon, while saving us energy on heating and cooling. Is it any wonder that trees play a role in real estate values?
Trees Build Home Equity
Studies show that the value of homes with trees is 3.5% - 15% higher than those without trees.1 Intuitively, we can feel the difference when we walk down a street with trees versus one without, and we can see the difference even when we look at listings for houses. But don’t dismay – if your dream home doesn’t have a tree out front, you can add one, and the sooner the better.
Landscaping adds the highest return of any home improvement – up to 200% return on investment, and trees are the prime ingredient of all landscaping options.2 Planting trees now, or when you buy your home, helps your investment to mature along with the trees, and allows you to enjoy the charm, the shade and all the other benefits while you are in the house, rather than planting just before you sell.
Tree Canopy Reduces Home Energy Costs
Trees can reduce the energy consumption of homes by providing shade, evaporative cooling, and blocking winter winds. Trees around a home can reduce air-conditioning needs in warm seasons by one third and heating requirements in cooler seasons by one quarter.3 Now that’s savings!
Trees Improve Air Quality
There’s a naturally symbiotic relationship between humans and trees; we inhale oxygen and exhale CO2, whereas trees “inhale” CO2 and “exhale” oxygen.4 They are our natural breathing partners! As a tree grows it absorbs and holds the CO2, effectively “freshening” the air.
Our tree canopy produces oxygen, absorbs air pollution, and reduces dust, ash, dirt and pollen. “Toronto’s urban forest removes about one-quarter of the annual emissions produced by industry within the city,” meaning Toronto’s air is 25% better than it would be without the trees.3 That’s a big improvement! In the City of Toronto, the urban forest sequesters over 46,000 tons of carbon, and the total amount of carbon currently stored in Toronto’s urban forest is estimated at 1.1 million tons.3
Trees Improve Ground Water Management
Trees reduce runoff by slowing down the rain as it falls, allowing more time for water to be absorbed into the ground below the tree. Increased absorption into the soil reduces the amount of stormwater that enters the pipes, thereby reducing the risk of flooding. Trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.
Toronto’s urban forest provides residents with over $80 million worth of environmental benefits and cost savings each year.3
Social & Health Benefits
A healthy, sustainable tree canopy contributes to our physical, mental, and emotional health. “Forests and green spaces have conclusively been linked to a significant decline in stress, improved rehabilitation, faster hospital recovery rates, and a decrease in the severity and symptoms in attention deficit disorders.”5
A minimum of 30% tree canopy is needed to maintain a healthy, sustainable ecosystem, and presently, some communities in Ontario have as little as 5% tree coverage.5 “Restoring the health and integrity of our forests can be viewed as a preventative health measure and will contribute to our collective health and well-being.”5
Walking through green spaces just plain makes us feel good. So much so, that it has a name; forest bathing.6 Walking down a lovely tree-lined neighbourhood has the same effect, and the best part is, it’s something that we can help to create – by planting a tree in our front yard.
Municipal Tree Programs
Municipalities are recognizing the benefits of a healthy tree canopy and consequently, many cities have committed to tree canopy goals to mitigate these effects, enhance communities, and reduce overall costs.
In order to reach their tree canopy goals, some municipalities have created incentives for homeowners to have free trees planted on their yards. Does your municipality have a tree canopy goal or a tree-planting incentive program?
Consider signing up for a new tree today. It’s not too late to have a tree planted in front of your house. Tree planting typically happens in the spring through fall, though sometimes it could take six months (or more) to implement, depending on the popularity of the program. Call your municipality today, choose a tree, and great ready for improved health, home equity, and happiness!
Ottawa’s tree canopy is currently at 25% and the new official plan recommends a 40% canopy.7 As the city’s population density intensifies, making tree sites more scarce, it is looking for help from residents to identify opportunities to plant trees.
The Trees in Trust program provides free trees for planting on the city-owned portion of front yards.8 There is no cost to homeowners, and they get to choose the tree and suggest the spot to the city. All the city asks for is a commitment to water it for the first three years.
Trees Winnipeg has a goal of planting one million trees before the population of Winnipeg reaches one million citizens.9 While the city is taking care of planting trees on municipal property, they have also partnered with the ReLeaf Tree Planting Program to make trees available at a reduced rate for homeowners to plant on private property.10 You can plant them on your front or back yard, as long as you plant it in the city of Winnipeg.
Twice a year in spring and fall homeowners have an opportunity to order, pick-up, and plant - and care for the trees. The secret to tree success is to give it a drink of water each day on your way to work. Use a milk jug, a watering can, or a pot, and fill it up on your way out the door and water the tree as you leave. Your tree will grow faster and become larger than if you leave it to the rain.
Hamilton has a 21% tree canopy and the city’s official canopy target is 30%. However, the forestry department is committed to growing the urban canopy to 35%.11 To achieve this target, the city is offering to plant a tree – at no cost to you - on the road-allowance in front of your home. Homeowners can choose from among 40 varieties.12 Planting starts in the spring and runs through to fall.
Have you got a spot out front of your house? Call today to arrange for a tree and you’ll enjoy the benefits for years, and then reap the rewards when you sell.
Are you ready to reap the benefits of all your home improvements? FairSquare can help. FairSquare Group Realty supports Canadians by providing real estate experiences with incredible rewards: sellers save thousands in commission and buyers receive $2.000 cash back* when they purchase a home with one of our REALTORS®. Call 1-855-999-9740 to learn more.
1Want to Boost the Value of Your Home? Plant a Tree – Right Now
2Landscaping Builds Equity
3Urban Forests: The Value of Trees in the City of Toronto
4Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide, and Energy
5Benefits of Trees
6Take a Bath... In the Forest
8Trees in Trust: Plant a Tree by your Home
10ReLeaf Tree Planting Program
11Urban Forest Strategy
12Street Tree Planting Program