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The Secret Way to Add Value to Your Home: It's Easy, Relatively Inexpensive & Beautiful!

If you're thinking of ever selling your home or are in the market to buy, planting trees on your property, or choosing a home that has them, can add strong value to your property. In general, properties with trees sell faster, and at a higher rate, than properties with no trees. However, the type of tree you plant, its maturity and its potential function all influence the perceived value.

"Good tree cover or well-spaced mature trees can increase the value of a developed property by 6 percent to 15 percent, or add 20 percent to 30 percent to the value of an undeveloped property," according to the Minnesota Society of Arboriculture.

tree selection

Mature trees can ad 6-15 percent to your property value.

Why Trees are So Desirable

Trees, of course, make an aesthetically pleasing addition to just about any landscape. However, they offer benefits even beyond their natural beauty.

Shade and Energy Conservation: Mature shade trees, strategically placed, can reduce cooling costs by up to 25 percent during the summer months, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They can also be used to form a windbreak that can cut winter heating costs by 20 percent, and to provide a natural barrier to drifting snow, in areas where this is problematic.

Health Benefits: Studies have shown that trees and wooded areas help with relaxation and mental well-being. Patients that had a view of trees while recovering in a hospital also had speedier recoveries than those who did not, other research has shown.

Privacy: Trees offer a natural screening to give you privacy in your home, or to conceal unsightly buildings, power lines, etc. from your view.

Clean Air and Wildlife Habitat: Trees help trap dust and chemicals from the air (and reduce the need to clean the exterior of your home and patio), while reducing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They also provide a natural habitat for birds, chipmunks, squirrels and many other animal species.

Things to Consider Before Planting

When it comes to maximizing your property value with tress, there are a couple of options. By far, the most valuable trees are large, mature ones that offer shade, privacy and beauty. Young trees that have just been planted will not add much value, until they have a few years to grow.

So, if you know you will not be selling for 10 or 15 years, go ahead and start small. By the time you are ready to sell your home, the trees will have matured into a valuable asset. If you plan to sell sooner, or would like to enjoy large shade trees now, you can buy mature trees from some nurseries. It is costly to buy larger trees, however, some nurseries may give you trees they consider too large to sell for a low price, if you are willing to have them removed and planted yourself (which would require the help of a professional).

On the other hand, if you are building a home on a wooded lot, be sure to decide ahead of time which trees you want conserved, taking into account space, shade and privacy. If you are looking to buy a home, older properties will be the ones with large, mature trees.

7 Best Tree Choices

The following trees, according to professional forester Steve Nix and others, are the cream of the crop -- able to survive in a wide variety of U.S. regions, and ideal for most yards. You should be aware of each tree's unique space and growth requirements before making a choice.

trees shade

Well-placed trees provide beauty, shade, privacy and a natural habitat for birds and small animals.

  1. Red Maple: A fast-growing shade tree that will reach 40-70 feet, and does well in most regions.

  2. Sycamore: A very large tree, reaching 75-100 feet, does best along creek banks but can adapt. It's best suited for U.S. plant hardiness zone 4, which is the Northern U.S., with low temperatures of -20 to -30 F. (To see a map of U.S. hardiness zones, visit The National Arbor Day Foundation.)

  3. Yellow Polar: A flowering tree that grows to 70-90 ft. It does best in well-drained soil in hardiness zone 5, which has low temperatures of -10 to -20 F.

  4. Red and White Oaks: These tress grow naturally in all 48 states, but Northern sources of the trees do best in zone 3, with low temperatures of -30 to -40 F.

  5. Flowering Dogwood: A flowering tree that reaches about 40 feet with wispy stems. It is best suited for zone 5.

  6. River Birch: Loves wet areas but does well in all U.S. climates. It grows 40-70 feet high.

  7. Redbud: A flowering tree, 20-40 feet tall. It has a wide habitat that spans from New Jersey to southern Pennsylvania, northwest to southern Michigan, southwest into southeastern Nebraska, south to central Texas, and east to central Florida.

Trees to Watch Out For

A tree planted in the wrong environment (such as an exotic species) can easily overrun an entire yard, crowd out other plants, or even disrupt the foundation of your home. Others may be unusually susceptible to disease or hard to care for. Before planting any tree in your yard, it's best to consult with a professional arborist who can tell you exactly what types of trees will meet your needs.

The following trees are a small sampling of some trees that could be problematic in the wrong areas:

American Elm: Very susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease (DED), in which a fungus infects the vascular (water-conducting) system of the tree, which can kill it.

Ash: The Emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle from Asia, has killed millions of ash trees throughout the Midwest. The beetle larvae feed on the inner bark of the trees, which interferes with its ability to transport water and nutrients.

Leland Cypress: These trees grow rapidly and can easily overgrow their space if not properly trimmed. Larger trees may also lack stable root support, so they may blow over in high winds.

Cottonwood: With weak wood and a shallow root structure, these trees are susceptible to storm damage and are also extremely vulnerable to insects and diseases.

Norway Maple: This is a non-native species that threatens native maples. It has an aggressive root system that can end up strangulating the tree itself, and its shade is so dense that grass cannot grow beneath it.

Recommended Reading

Which Home Renovations are Your Best Investments?

Disease-Fighting Plants: 7 Delicious Herbs that Pack a Powerful Antimicrobial Punch


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Kate Baird and Jody Hudson: Landscaping

10 Best Trees You Should Plant

10 Yard Trees Gone Bad

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