While I don’t consider myself a ‘tree hugger’ in the sense that I want to protect every tree, I do love trees, and I have occasionally hugged one. I think we can all agree that not all trees have the same value, but science has recently quantified some of the benefits of trees that you may not be aware of.

Trees help purify the air we breathe by absorbing pollutants

They take toxins out of the air and lock them inside their leaves, stems, and trunk. They likewise reduce the pollutants in sewer systems, saving communities millions of dollars in water treatment costs. One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.

Trees increase property values and improve neighborhood appeal

A single mature tree can have an appraised value between $1,000 and $10,000. While having large mature trees along streets increases a home’s value from 3 to 15%, landscaping with trees can increase property values by 20%. The street trees in Portland, Oregon increase the value of homes by a total of $1.1 billion, which is an average of $7,020 for each house. Trees also reduce levels of domestic violence and are an important part of safer, sociable neighborhoods.

Trees cool our cities by reducing the heat generated by buildings and paved surfaces

The cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equal to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees properly placed can save an average household up to $250 annually in energy costs. A tree planted on the west side of your home will reduce your energy bills in five years by 3%, and in fifteen years, the savings will be nearly 12%.

Trees provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, helping to keep some nature in urban areas. And when we spend time around trees or even just enjoying the view of trees, it helps us recover from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.

So, join the fun on Arbor day (the last Friday in April every year), and plant a tree. Or take special care of the trees you already have by giving them a drink during the hot summer months and making sure they get fertilized annually. They’ll thank you with many more years of beauty and benefits.