Ever heard the statement “Money doesn’t grow on trees”? I’m sure at some point or another, especially when still elementary age, all of us had someone make the comment to emphasize frugality.

Granted, we can point out that indeed, goods from trees, like fruit or timber, are abundant in our economy, suggesting that money really does grow on trees, so long as you can sell the tree product to someone.

That’s easy to recognize, too, because those products have a market price that provides us a decision-making means as to whether or not to purchase. For example, you might buy a bag of apples when they are priced at $1 per pound, but when it jumps to $3 per pound, you may skip it.

What about those values that aren’t considered in our markets, though? I’m referring to those non-priced values that go undisclosed, but really drive the end worth. Some things don’t show their true value until later down the road.

Getting a gym membership is a perfect example. Your upfront cost might seem a waste if you only go once or consider only the results of one week, but if you're disciplined in using the facility for half a year, the value is better understood. Stay consistent and you’ll reap the reward of better health and likely lower health care costs in the long run.

We can similarly relate this to trees planted in our towns and cities. At first glance, it may seem easy to underwrite the value in planting trees in your yard or along a street. We might look only at the upfront costs and work, all to simply scratch it off altogether.

However, research on all the services provided via stormwater collection, shading, energy reductions, habitat and pollution reduction, among others, shows that value in the long run to far outweigh the initial burden.

Now, putting a price on this isn’t always the easiest and varies depending on site location. However, the general consensus is that for every $1 invested into an urban trees, the community can see a return between $2 and $5. This is coming from findings such as:

  • Street trees can reduce summer temperatures by 3-5 degrees;
  • A single mature tree can collect 1,600 gallons of precipitation a year;
  • The shade over pavement can help reduce long term resurfacing costs by over 40%;
  • A mature tree often provides similar summer cooling as two air conditioners;
  • Trees in a yard increase home values by 5-20%;
  • Noise can be reduced by over 50% along corridors with trees;
  • One properly placed mature tree can reduce carbon by nearly 1,000 pounds partially through absorption, but more notably, through avoided emissions;
  • Particulates from exhaust gases can be cut in half by established trees;
  • And the list goes on.

A variety of online material can supply you with similar and more information to inform you of the many services provided by our urban forests, but I’ll instead encourage you to simply go out and see for yourself what difference a tree makes for you.

Consider, too, that outside of new plantings, one can bring a lot of benefit in properly caring for already established trees. The benefits listed after all are most effectively achieved by those properly grown.

And who says money doesn’t grow on trees?