The Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas


Trees are major assets on our city streets. Just as streets, sidewalks, public buildings, and recreational facilities are a part of a community’s infrastructure, so are publicly owned trees. They are on the job 24 hours everyday working for all of us to improve our environment and quality of life. Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits, trees within our urban forests improve our air, protect our water, save energy, and improve economic sustainability.

Trees Improve Our Air

Planting trees remains one of the cheapest, most effective means of sequestering excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

Trees Protect Our Water

Trees act as natural pollution filters. Their canopies, trunks, roots, and associated soil and other natural elements of the landscape filter polluted particulate matter out of the flow toward the storm sewers. Reducing the flow of storm water reduces the amount of pollution that is washed into a drainage area. Trees use nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium by-products of urban living which can pollute streams.

Trees Save Energy

Homeowners that properly place trees in their landscape can realize savings up to 58% on daytime air conditioning and as high as 65% for mobile homes. If applied nationwide to buildings not now benefiting from trees, shade could reduce our nation’s consumption of oil by 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

Trees Can Increase Traffic Safety

Trees can enhance traffic calming measures such as narrower streets, extended curbs, roundabouts, etc. Tall trees give the perception of making a street feel narrower, slowing people down. Closely spaced trees give the perception of speed (they go by very quickly), slowing people down. A treeless street enhances the perception of a street being wide and free of hazard, increasing speed.

Trees Can Improve Economic Sustainability

Trees enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists. Apartments and offices in wooded areas rent more quickly and have higher occupancy rates. Businesses leasing office spaces in developments with trees find their workers more productive and absenteeism is reduced.

Trees Can Increase Real Estate Values

Property values can increase 5-15% (depends on species, maturity, quantity, and location) when trees are added compared to properties without trees.

Information used by permission of Colorado Tree Coalition