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Garden Expert – THE VALUE OF TREES in the LANDSCAPE – Apr/May15

Garden Expert - THE VALUE OF TREES in the LANDSCAPE - Apr/May15

Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease and many other health concerns are reduced by the presence of trees in an urban living environment

While the production of oxygen, amelioration of air- and water-borne toxins, the sequestering of carbon and untold other benefits provided by trees is well-known, no one could say—in quantifiable terms—what this really means to the human race.

Groundbreaking research presented in the landmark study A Healthy Dose of Green quantifies and proves the many health benefits of urban trees and green space. The research, which is the amalgamation of over 150 studies and reports in one 26-page paper, is supported by the not-for-profit Trees Ontario and it tells a fascinating story.

In Japan, it is common for senior citizens to take trips by bus to a forested area for a day of ‘forest bathing.’ The idea is to take the necessary hours to absorb the full benefits of nature’s most powerful oxygen machines in their native habitat.


Closer to home, here in Toronto, LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) teamed up with Dr. Andrew Millward of Ryerson University to come up with a tool that helps to determine the actual value of the trees on your property (

The Tree Benefits Estimator is designed to make the calculation of energy savings from trees easy and fun. When trees are planted on the south, east, or west side of your house, they save you a lot of money in electricity via reduced air conditioning costs.

On the north and west side of your home, evergreen trees will save you a bundle in heating costs by diverting the prevailing winds of winter away from your home.

Everyone knew that energy savings could be achieved through the well-planned location of urban trees. Now you can determine the actual savings by punching in some basic information that you likely have in your head already, including the exposure of the tree, proximity to your home, the size of the tree trunk measured in diameter, etc.

Twenty-one-year-old Melissa Huang tested the Tree Estimator for me. She said, “I found it very easy to use. There are only four steps with very basic drop-down menu questions.” Melissa was able to determine that the medium-sized deciduous tree on the southwest side of her parents’ home has a value of $887 after 10 years and over $4,000 after 40 years.


This is an excellent tool for anyone interested in buying a tree. The Estimator links you directly to the LEAF tree offerings, which include many native species. LEAF will provide a site assessment and planting service for a subsidized price, usually about half the amount that you will pay elsewhere.

Any resident of Ontario can use the Estimator and will receive personalized results based on your nearest city (there are 27 cities in all).


If you have existing trees on your property, the Estimator provides useful information about the savings that you are currently enjoying. This can be handy when putting your home up for sale. Imagine being able to tell prospective buyers that the value of your trees are in the tens of thousands of dollars. You could simply hand them the information that you printed from the LEAF website. While similar tree estimators in American cities are available on the web, this one is unique in that it offers specific information on Ontario electricity rates, using 38 native tree species, each with species-specific results. I believe that this seemingly simple tool can revolutionize the valuation of real estate in this province. When a mature tree is viewed as the clean-air machine that it is—one that grows in value through the passage of time—we value differently the real estate on which each tree is located.


A tree is in its most productive phase (producing environmental enhancements and energy-cost savings) when it is between 40 and 100 years of age, depending on the species. I hope that the Tree Estimator will encourage greater foresight on the part of landowners and homeowners everywhere. As the trees on your property age, I encourage you to replace them with young ones.

Mark Cullen appears on Canada AM every Wednesday morning at 8:40. He is spokesperson for Home Hardware Lawn and Garden. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at