Maybe Money DOES Grow on Trees

Neighborhood trees have been getting a lot of good press lately. First there was writer Tim De Chant, who created an Internet sensation last summer after posting his “Income inequality, as seen from space” blog series. It showed satellite photos of rich and poor neighborhoods in various cities.

The contrast was stark, revealing in shades of green and gray that “rich people . . .  have a lot more trees than poor people.” That’s Tim De Chant talking to Matt O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News, whose article “Gauge of Bay Area neighborhood wealth? Look to the trees” also quotes Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwel saying, “If you have a tree-lined street, property values go up.”

Next we have the October 2012 issue of Money magazine, in which Josh Garskof writes that a tree “may be contributing 8% to 10% [of] your home’s value, according to Scott Cullen of the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.” Not only that, trees can save you money, as (Garskof continues) “a big shade tree will knock nearly $70 off annual air conditioning bills, says David Nowak of the U.S. Forest service, and a large evergreen that blocks winter winds will reduce heating costs by around $60 a year.”

Are we convinced yet? Of course, big trees can also be a source of worries and neighbor conflict. Nolo’s website offers a lot of useful guidance on legal matters relating to trees, in its “Trees and Neighbors FAQ” (with questions like, “My neighbor’s tree looks like it’s going to fall on my house any day now. What should I do?“) and the “Neighbor Disputes” section.