Top view of an urban city park

Many cities and urban communities around the world are beginning to make improving their “green infrastructure” a priority because they understand how vital trees are.

Trees provide benefits that improve the quality of city life, making urban environments more liveable and sustainable for everyone. Trees also help mitigate the negative outcomes that come with the modernisation of facilities, businesses and services in our communities, such as pollution, heat and density.

But most importantly (and often overlooked) is that trees can actually produce positive returns for the economy, especially when they are well taken care of.

To provide some insights about the true value of urban trees, we’ve prepared a list explaining their importance, why cities need trees and the different solutions you can utilise to help them thrive for a long time.

City park and modern financial buildings in Shanghai

Acting as the “lungs” of growing cities across the world, here are the reasons why trees in the urban landscape are highly essential:

  1. Trees make cities more visually appealing.

Urban trees provide an aesthetic touch to our streetscape. By adding colour to grey spaces and separating various urban fabric elements (meaning pedestrians, motorists, buildings, parking lots, etc.) from one another, they transform busy cities into more harmonious and pleasing environments.

  1. Trees improve air quality in cities.

With growing populations and advancing industrialisation, air pollution is an unavoidable problem in developing cities. Fortunately, trees can minimise the toxic levels of air by drawing out carbon dioxide.

A mature tree alone can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide, while trees within street proximity absorb 9 times more pollutants than those planted far from each other. Research also shows that ozone is improved by 3% to 7% every time urban tree canopy increases by 10%.

  1. Trees create a cooling effect.

Concrete streets, parking lots and asphalt buildings can increase urban temperature by around 3-7 degrees. By transpiring water and providing shade, trees are known to reduce this heat and create a cooling effect on local temperatures. With proper urban street tree planting, an average household in the city can also save around 15% to 35% off their energy bills.

  1. Trees provide health benefits to citizens.

With their capacity to protect people from pollution and harsh weather, trees are helpful to those who are suffering from asthma, skin cancer, hypertension and other stress-related sicknesses.

Trees can also address noise pollution issues that bother most people living in cities. Each mature tree can reduce unwanted noise by up to 6 decibels, while a vertical wall of trees serves as a buffer to loud street sounds.

  1. Trees improve the mental health of citizens

Aside from the physical health advantages, they also improve the overall mental health of people too.

Being surrounded by trees lowers the level of stress hormones (cortisol) in our brains. Through their calming influence and therapeutic effect, they reduce the risk of stress and anxiety in a population.

  1. Trees allow cities to save costs.

A research performed in the U.K. by Natural England reported that every £1 spent on tree planting yielded £7 savings – which equated over £2.1 billion, if taken nationally.

This is because, throughout their lifetimes, trees provide tangible benefits twice the amount invested into planting and caring for them. Such benefits can range from climate change mitigation, ecosystems conservation, disaster prevention, livelihood improvement and sustainable infrastructures.

  1. Trees drive the values of properties up.

By providing a more pleasant and safer environment, surrounding trees increase property values by an average of 5% to 20%. According to professional realtors, street trees also add more value to adjacent houses and businesses than non-street trees.

  1. Trees enable cities to manage their stormwater better.

A massive portion of our cities’ ground surface is composed of impermeable materials that don’t effectively absorb water and mitigate flooding.

Each mature and healthy tree, however, is capable of absorbing up to 450 litres of water through its roots. In addition, trees effectively prevent stormwater (which might contain harmful chemicals) from reaching water courses.

Central Park with Manhattan skyscrapers over Turtle Pond, New York

How to ensure the healthy growth of city trees

These 8 benefits provide a very compelling reason to plant more trees in urban environments.

Urban trees provide multiple benefits that can make cities greener, more sustainable and healthier. But to take full advantage, these trees must be capable of surviving and thriving in the urban landscape where room for growth is usually limited. Unfortunately, many urban trees fail to reach maturity because they are deprived of essential soil support, proper irrigation and space for their roots to flourish.

Using technology-based products like soil vault systems, tree pit irrigation, tree guards and other root management solutions can go a long way in making sure these city trees will mature healthily in the urban landscape so the local area can benefit.

Citygreen has a wide range of innovative infrastructure products that can assist you transform grey spaces into green ones.

above view of urban Timiryazevskiy park and apartment houses in Moscow city in autumn