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One thing that has surprised me when researching street trees is how much impact trees have on property values. It has been found that trees can increase property values up to 25%. Initially this percentage seems amazing & somehow unreal, but when you think about it, properties in beautiful tree-lined streets do sell for more money. If there are beautiful trees on the property as well as a beautiful tree-lined street, then the value of the property is even higher. Those green suburbs that have thousands of tall trees with large natural canopies are well known for their high property values. Yet, much of their housing is similar to that in Marrickville LGA. Those suburbs only look better because they have more tall trees on private property & many more street trees.
Why do trees raise property values? People react to green. Trees make most people feel good on a deep & often unconscious level. Trees make people relax & send the message that here, in this place, we can be happy.
When we drive down a street where the trees are hacked & unpleasant to look at, we have one of 2 emotional responses. We either ignore our surroundings or we become agitated. Even if we ignore our surroundings, we are still unconsciously assessing an area & if asked about it later, we are likely to say that we don’t particularly like the suburb. If we become agitated, we are reacting to the ugliness. We know there is something about the locality that we don’t like, be it the ugly buildings, the feeling of being cramped, the graffiti, general dirtiness or the large areas of cement. We notice all these things because of the lack of trees or because the trees themselves are stumpy, lob-sided & ugly.
This reaction is why some suburbs are designated as ‘not good areas.’ Sure, some suburbs are well known for their criminal activities & although there are many factors that contribute to criminality in a community, trees even have a part to play in this. Research has shown that people who live in streets with many large street trees have a heightened sense of community pride. There is little or no graffiti, less littering & less dumping. People are reacting to the green & the beauty of trees & they think twice before doing an action that will mar this. They will go elsewhere to leave their tags for example.
Lovely street trees bring a sense of order to the visual environment where there is an architectural hotch-potch of buildings because the human eye notices the beauty of the trees & not the ugliness of the
buildings. The city of Canberra knows this well because they hide most of their factories behind a mass of trees. They also plant many tall growing trees in car parks so they eye sees the beauty of the trees & not the asphalt.
For decades the roads leaving Sydney airport were unbelievably ugly consisting of miles of buildings with very few trees. Mascot Council has changed this over the last decade by planting thousands of Eucalypts & other tall growing street trees. To my mind, this has greatly improved the area. The roads surrounding the airport are now green & a haven for nectar-feeding birds. The roads also showcase Australian flora for tourists. Similarly, the M5 was beautified before the Olympics by the planting of masses of trees, native flowers & grasses.
No one wants to live in ugly localities. They do so because they cannot afford to live in prettier suburbs. Seeing acres of tiled roofs disturbs people. We like green. Even if some of us think trees should be a significant distance from our house, we still like trees & even go to places in our leisure time where there are trees because everyone needs a dose of green to feel good. Only skate-boarders & graffiti artists spend their leisure time in cemented areas.
In America insuring the trees is commonplace. Real Estate Agents calculate the tree’s Leaf Surface Area (LSA) when determining property values. A property with more LSA has a higher value than one with fewer trees & lower LSA. These values accumulate incrementally over time because each tree typically adds more leaf surface area after each growing season.
So, if you are considering chopping down a tree on your property or you want the street tree out front removed, you need to be aware that doing so will likely decrease the value of your property & that of your neighbours as well. Sweeping those annoying leaves is really an investment. As for root damage, once a tree is mature, its roots are in place & it will not be creating any further damage to your property. Trees planted 70 plus years ago will not likely be causing damage today. There are businesses that specialise in using sonar to track the path of tree roots & boundaries can be put in place to prevent roots from travelling further if you wish to ensure they won’t encroach on your property. These interventions cost money, but a large tree will pay for itself over time not just in higher property values, but also by lowering household energy costs throughout the year.
With global warming many of us need to rethink our attitude to trees. They are not nuisances that only belong in parks. As climate change advances we will be more reliant on their cooling ability & for their spectacular ability to absorb CO2 & store carbon. Communities will find themselves planting urban forests rather than chopping trees down.