In the 1950s, many Americans began leaving cities in favor of sprawling out in the suburbs. Even though the commute would be longer, the suburbs came with a perceived shift in additional space, safety, and less expensive real estate.
Today, however, Americans are ditching the suburbs to live more sustainable city lives. More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 70 percent.
Cities that emphasize green space, ride-sharing programs, bike lanes, and community engagement attract a diverse group of residents and enhance biodiversity.
Outdoor recreation areas aren’t luxuries, they’re priorities. Trees especially offer emotional, environmental and economic benefits. They can become urban green spaces with trees that are properly cared for improve life for city dwellers.
Whether you are a city dweller, urban homeowner or live in a rural area, caring for and planting trees is necessary for the future. This Earth Day, and every day, we need to protect and nurture our largest environmental allies.
Cities of the Future
Cities of the future will have to be more sustainable to manage growth. And trees are key in future urbanization.
Want to create desirable places to live? Dan Herms from Davey Tree has one simple piece of advice. Plant more trees and care for the ones already there.
From San Francisco to Boston, professional landscapers and city planners are embarking on large-scale tree planting initiatives. Homeowners are also incorporating new plans for trees – not just to fill gaps – but as key elements in outdoor areas where they are given room to grow and thrive.
“When you plant and care for a tree, you get to reap the benefits of trees all year long. Trees do a lot more than clean the air and look pretty, they save you money, too, by lowering energy costs,” Herms notes.
Benefits of Street Trees
As cities grow, so will energy consumption, but it can be mitigated through tree planting and other urban greening methods.
Shade trees reduce the need for air conditioning in summer, lowering summer’s high energy bills and keeping your home cooler in those hot, sticky months. Research has shown that neighborhoods with many trees can be up to 12 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than other areas when hot summertime temperatures turn into “heat islands.”
Even in cooler seasons, trees still give back, Herms explains. Deciduous trees drop their leaves providing more sun in the winter, and evergreen trees located on a yard’s windward side can act as a windbreak. These benefits can provide substantial savings on a home’s heating bills.
Urbanization is synonymous with impervious surfaces. Buildings, streets, and parking lots don’t allow rainwater or snow to sink into the ground. It runs down gutters and streets collecting pollutants along the way and ultimately becomes a major source of water pollution. Trees slow the streams, allowing it to soak into the ground where much of it is transpired back to the atmosphere by the tree. Trees also filter out harmful chemicals and keep precious topsoil in place, which Herms knows is a big problem in most cities.
While this infrastructure is referred to as “low impact development,” it has high impact results. More trees, better care for our trees make cities more resilient to extreme weather events that seem to be on the rise.
The future needs trees, and trees need us now. Contact your local certified arborist and give your trees the best chance to continue to grow strong and healthy.