Five benefits of using trees in urban design
We take a look at five great reasons you should include trees in your urban design.
1. Trees soften and frame the built environment
Given the choice of a concrete jungle or urban landscapes with a rich tree cover, the public's preference is clear. Making a greener and more attractive environment with the use of tree planting can help to both soften and compliment the built environment. Bringing both colour and softening harsh lines of buildings, trees can also help screen unsightly views and enhance the overall character of an area.
2. Trees aid cleaner air
The canopies of trees act as a physical filter, capturing dust and tiny particle matter (PM) on the surface of their twigs and leaves, as well as filtering other toxic particles such as lead. High levels of particulate matter have a detrimental effect on health, particularly worsening chronic diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.
3. Trees provide emotional benefits
There are numerous studies that show the emotional benefit of a green environment, and how viewing nature can help individuals recover from a stressful experience. A nine-year study of patients at a suburban Pennsylvania hospital following gall-bladder removal, showed that patients with a natural view from their window not only required less pain medication, but also shorter post-operative hospital stays1.
4. Trees encourage biodiversity
Trees and woods in towns provide extremely successful wildlife habitats, supporting a great diversity of popular wildlife and an opportunity for people to enjoy nature on their doorstep. Trees provide nesting sites for birds and support a wide range of insects that are an important food source for birds and other wildlife. Fruit and berry bearing trees are also a direct source of food for many species of bird.
5. Trees contribute to the local economy
The positive impact of greenery also transfers over to indirectly helping the local economy. Two of the main areas are:
- An improvement in performance for retailers - Studies by Dr. Kathleen Wolf for the University of Washington have shown that people visiting retail areas were prepared to pay on average 11% more for goods in a landscaped retail area including trees, than one without2.
- People are prepared to pay more for houses in neighbourhoods with more trees: - A number of studies in the USA have showed that the effect of tree cover in the vicinity of residential properties may be an increase in value of up to 6% greater than in similar areas without trees3.
When introducing trees to a project, it's important that any new or existing trees are cared for correctly. With young and semi-mature trees, the addition of tree grilles can not only improve the aesthetic quality, but also protect the roots in high traffic areas, as well as preventing compacted soil by allowing rainwater into the roots.
To aid and protect young trees, tree guards can be added to protect the trees from pedestrians, animals and vehicles. The long lasting tree protection ensures the health of the tree, maintaining the greenery of an area for years to come.