Trees are everywhere. Yet the argument can be made that they and the benefits that they provide to our society go largely unnoticed by the general public.
Some homeowners consider trees to be a nuisance, but they can add value to your property.
Rodney Rodgers is an agent with Wilson-Rodgers & Associates, Inc. Realtors in Pine Bluff.
“In my opinion trees are a plus because I love trees,” Rodgers said. “Probably in more cases than not trees are a plus; a real selling point. A landscaped lot with pretty shade trees I think is generally a benefit that appreciates the value of a house. But we do get folks who are afraid of them falling onto the house and they’ll say ‘well, I’m going to have to take those out. There are more people who think that way than you’d think. We have people who don’t like the pine trees because of the needles.”
Dave Sadler is an architect with Nelson Architectural Group in Pine Bluff.
“One thing we know about trees and landscaping is that they reduce the energy costs related to heating and cooling by positively affecting the micro-climate around living and working spaces,” Sadler said. “We try to fit our buildings into the natural environment as much as possible. We try to be sensitive to the site. When budgets allow we will do a landscape plan and try to replace the trees we have to cut down so that new trees are coming up. We always try to put in landscaping and ground cover to soften up the visual of the building.”
Sadler said his firm is saving a lot of the trees on the site of the new Edgewood Elementary School in the Watson Chapel School District.
Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock, said good tree stewardship requires regular maintenance.
“It is important to manage the trees on your property,” Walkingstick said. “Only so many trees can fit in a yard so people must create the healthiest environment possible for their trees. All trees look cute when they are little but you have to think about how much space they will occupy once they mature. People must also make sure that they are mindful of dying tree limbs and know that they are responsible for getting those taken down.
“One of the values of trees that folks don’t think about is heating and cooling savings from having trees growing near the house,” Walkingstick said. “Trees also add value to the overall price of real estate. If you’re trying to sell your house you might get a higher price for it with trees on the property.
“Trees improve our air quality because their leaves filter the air and remove dust and other particles and absorb carbon dioxide,” Walkingstick said. “There has been some research that suggests there are mental benefits from being around trees. They provide people with a better mental outlook.”
Bad trees equal good business
Trees and electricity transmission lines can be a bad combination and that is where tree service companies come in.
Al Baker is general foreman for West Tree Service, which is based in Little Rock and is contracted with companies including Entergy Arkansas and several electricity co-ops to keep trees and their foliage from interfering with the delivery of electrical power.
“Our main responsibility is to keep vegetation from causing interruptions in electrical service,” Baker said. “We work on a four- to five-year cycle performing tree maintenance throughout a service area. While the trimming cycle remains the same we will go out and respond to any situation where power lines may be in danger.”
Baker said his crew responded to an emergency on Thursday in Pine Bluff.
“We were doing routine trimming off of Blake Street when we were called to a residence where a tree was about to pull a service box out of the ground,” Baker said. “We had to get it down before it caused a service outage. If we can remove a tree before it causes a problem that is what we hope for. We have a contact with Entergy who will tell us where to go and what needs to be done.”
Baker said the work he and his crew do minimizes outages.
“Besides trimming back trees around power lines we also cut back vines that grow into transformers and apply a herbicide to slow down its regrowth,” Baker said.
Baker said the tree trimming schedule is dictated in part by the rate of growth of the various tree species that live in Arkansas.
“The trimming schedule all depends on what kind of tree is involved,” Baker said. “For instance, live oaks are considered slow growth as are eastern red cedar, eastern magnolia, sugar berry, sweet gum, elm, water oak and sycamore. Fast growth trees include pecan, maple, ash and black cherry. All of these trees have to be trimmed back to the specifications given to us by Entergy.”
Weather is another factor affecting preventative tree trimming efforts.
“Drought conditions weaken trees and make them more susceptible to coming down on power lines,” Baker said. “There are a lot of dead trees in the state and we have to deal with that situation.
The value of a tree
Casey Trees, a Washington, DC non-profit committed to protecting the tree canopy of the nation’s capital and Davey Tree Expert Company teamed up to create the National Tree Benefit Calculator, which allows anyone to find out the exact value of trees throughout the country.
The pine is the state tree of Arkansas and as such is found throughout the area.
A loblolly pine with a diameter of 25 inches found on a residential property will intercept 7,778 gallons of storm water every year according to the calculator and information provided by The Center for Urban Forest Research. The tree acts as a mini-reservoir controlling runoff at the source according to the CUFR.
The same 25-inch loblolly pine will raise a home’s property value by $86 at it current size calculated through an analysis of the tree’s leaf surface area according to the CUFR.
The 25-inch loblolly pine will add 445 square feet of leaf surface area this year and will add more in future years with a corresponding increase in property values. It will conserve 178 kilowatt hours of electricity for cooling and reduce consumption of oil or natural gas by nearly 400 cubic feet according to the CUFR.
The 25- inch loblolly pine will reduce atmospheric carbon by 748 pounds this year by locking carbon dioxide up in its roots, trunks, stems and leaves while it grows and in wood products when it is harvested, according to the CUFR.