Back when I first graduated from college, I led tree-planting projects throughout the Cascade Foothills. Rain or shine, volunteers would bundle up in their rain gear and join me every weekend to trudge through the woods, sometimes sinking up to their knees in mud or tripping over the roots of established trees. They endured the mess and discomfort, knowing that they were making a difference. Together we carried and planted thousands of young trees while also helping to ensure a healthy future forest.
Trees are one of nature’s greatest assets, not only in our local forests but also in our neighborhoods. In fact, Kirkland has been a Tree City USA for 14 consecutive years (as of 2015) and the City continues to restore our urban forest through the Green Kirkland Partnership program.
Here are just a few of the benefits that we get from trees in our yards and neighborhoods:
Trees improve water quality.
When properly planted and well cared for, trees can trap and hold rainwater in their leaves, branches, bark and root systems, slowing the flow of rainwater and reducing runoff, flooding and erosion. When planted along streams, they also provide shade to help keep the water cool for fish and other aquatic wildlife.
Trees can reduce your electric bill.
Homes shaded by trees need less energy for cooling, which in turn means lower monthly utility bills in the summer and a reduced need for utilities to increase power generation to meet peak load demand.
Trees clean the air we breathe.
We all know that trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Trees are natural air filters, too! Leaves work to collect dust and other particulates from the air, reducing pollution that can damage our lungs.
Trees increase property value.
Healthy, mature trees can increase the value of homes compared to equivalent homes without trees.
When sprucing up your yard in the spring or fall, consider planting a tree in your yard as an investment in the health and beauty of your home and neighborhood. Seattle reLeaf’s webpage is a great resource for information on placing and planting a tree in your yard. Kirkland’s Urban Forest page contains lots of great information on the City of Kirkland’s efforts to protect this valuable natural resource.
No room to plant a tree in your own yard? Volunteer with Green Kirkland Partnership to plant a tree in one of Kirkland’s parks!