There are a lot of blog posts that extol the virtues of trees, but man! They are all soooo serious. I won’t disagree that trees do a lot ecologically and even sociologically but we’re humans. We have petty, silly reasons for doing things. We’re not necessarily planting trees to save the next three generations, we’re planting trees for these reasons:
1. Trees are big
Now before you roll your eyes and assume a precocious 6 year old wrote this, hear me out. Fairfax County Virginia mandates that the tallest a home can be at the peak is 35 feet above surrounding grade. That’s still pretty big, right? Unless you’re in one of those developments where everything is mashed together, a full height home runs the risk of looking out of place. Trees help tie the home to the lot and to the surroundings. They make a visual transition from your flat front yard to those tall gables. Even if you have a smaller home, a tree gracefully canopying beyond the roofline makes a house look like home. Think about the older neighborhoods you’ve been in. Why do they feel so welcoming and so much more permanent than new subdivisions? It’s the trees.
2. Trees don’t have to be big
If I call something “shrubby” or “shrub form” you probably get a very specific picture in your head and it’s likely not tree-like. Sometimes we want that tree shape in the landscape but we don’t necessarily need a 60 foot oak. That’s where smaller trees come into play, from Japanese Maples to crabapples to dwarf Hinoki cypress.
3. Nothing lights up the neighborhood like a tree in bloom
All I need to show you is this photo. Would the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin be half as exciting if they were on little cherry bushes? Heck no.
4. Trees make stupid neighbors invisible
I can’t tell you how many calls I get for screening plantings. Sometime it’s privacy, sometimes it’s a bad view, but people always want to be able to make something go away. Above a certain height, that’s all about trees. Nothing else works nearly as well without a lot of construction.
5. Trees highlight beautiful views
Got a spot you want someone to look? Frame it with trees! They’ll look right into the opening you provide.
6. You can eat (and drink!) trees
Ok not technically but you can eat the fruit grown on trees. Close enough. Even if you don’t have a ton of space, there are plenty of dwarf varieties that can work for you. Or for drinking, the tree above is a pear tree at Fabbioli Cellars in Loudoun County, Virginia. Doug Fabbioli hangs the bottles so that pears grow inside them for pear port. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
7. Trees can be trained to do cool tricks
Espaliering is a technique in which a plant is trained to grow in a particular way on a trellis or other framework. In George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon, fruit trees were trained to grow along the fences to maximize space. Small yard? You’re out of excuses.
8. Trees make the best memorials
I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now. Everyone loves a tree planted in memory of that special someone they lost, because that tree will live on long after those who knew them are gone.
9. Trees are sculpture
Sometimes you need a focal point in the landscape and you don’t want another statue or fountain or whatever. Consider a weeping tree, or something cool and contorted.
10. Trees evoke a mood or place
Would this Japanese garden look remotely as cool without the Japanese maple?
11. Trees are there to lend a hand
Sure, you could sink some posts and string lights between them. This is better.
13. Trees are there for critters
The sugar maple in my backyard is home to a new nest every single year. The honey locust is where the birds congregate. The birches are where we hang the
bird squirrel feeder.
14. There is no better shade than the shade of a tree
You know I’m right.
15. Trees eat things
Om nom nom.
16. Without trees we’d all be dead
Seriously, between the food and habitat they provide, the cooling, and the cleaning of the air, we owe our continued existence on this little rock to trees.
Are you convinced? You need more trees!