Fall Sugar Maples

The Many Benefits of Planting Trees

There’s no question that planting a tree is a special thing. Trees are planted in celebration of life’s milestones, to welcome new family members, and in memory of loved ones. We intuitively recognize the symbolic significance of trees with their long lives and steadfast presence in our landscapes. Beyond the symbolic importance, planting trees comes with myriad practical benefits as well- both personal and ecological.

Here are some great reasons to plant trees:

Energy Savings

Strategically planted trees can help make your house more comfortable. If you’ve ever taken refuge under a tree to cool down in the heat of summer, you know the shade provided by deciduous trees like oaks and maples is a huge advantage. Planting a tree on the southwest side of your home will provide excellent cover during the hot summer and keep your house naturally cooler. The shade provided by a large tree not only cools your home, but cools the entire area beneath it, even further cutting down on the heat emanating from your yard and making it an all around more pleasant temperature. Since they drop their leaves, deciduous trees allow sunlight to hit your home and warm it in winter. The energy savings over time definitely adds up.


Trees support a staggering amount of wildlife. If you’re looking to attract birds to your yard, planting trees that provide habitat and cover is an essential start. A mix of deciduous and evergreen trees is ideal. Trees like oaks that host many moth and butterfly species provide not only food for the moth and butterfly caterpillars, but also food for the birds that rely on those caterpillars to feed their young. Flowering trees also provide huge amounts of pollen and nectar for all sorts of pollinators. One tree in flower, like a serviceberry, linden or flowering crab, can provide the resources of many many smaller plants. In addition to pollen and nectar, trees that bear fruit, nuts, or seeds are also important food for birds, mammals, and invertebrates throughout the season.

Air Quality and Carbon Storage

Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their tissues. Trees, along with prairies, are often touted as the most effective carbon sinks in the plant world. When it comes to trees, the bigger and healthier they are, the more carbon they are able to absorb and store. There are lots of figures out there about how much carbon dioxide trees can absorb, which trees are best at it, and at what point in their growth they absorb the most, but there’s no question that they are highly effective at the task. Planting a tree is something you can do to directly positively impact air quality.

Great! Now What Kind of Tree Should I Plant?

When you’re trying to decide what to plant, focus on variety. Look around your neighborhood and plant something that isn’t already represented. Lots of maples already? Plant an oak or a disease resistant elm. Lots of oaks? How about a linden, musclewood, or hackberry? Planting a diversity of trees protects the whole canopy from devastating disease and insect invasions like Emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease. Along with diversity, choose trees that will be happy in the planting site to ensure they live long, happy lives. Keeping “right plant, right place” in mind will ensure you reap the benefits of tree planting for many years to come.