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Don’t Ever Buy a House With Trees in the Yard!

2010 August 3

By Nancy Grundahl, Region 3 – Philadelphia

That’s what my cousin told his daughter who was searching for a house to buy.

His rather practical reasons were:

  • Trees are expensive to get cut down when they get old.
  • Unless they are evergreen you’ll need to rake leaves in the fall.
  • Tree roots can damage your foundation and patio.
  • Limbs can fall on and damage your house or cars.

I didn’t know what to say, but it was clear that there was a big discrepancy between my relationship with the natural environment and his. Funny, I thought, since we are about the same age. But, then I realized our childhoods were quite different. I was brought up with a woods and a creek behind my house where I played every day. And, there was a field next door with corn, strawberries, asparagus and pumpkins growing. That was my childhood and it continues to define how I think about the environment.

His environment growing up was suburbia, rarely if ever venturing into a more natural setting. It reminded me of a book some of my co-workers with kids were discussing – Last Child in the Woods. In the book, author Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s children to rising obesity, attention disorders, and depression in children. My instinctive, non-researched-based guess is that children who don’t play in woods also don’t have the same love and appreciation of trees that children who play in the woods do. Perhaps they aren’t as inclined to believe that trees can improve our environment by moderating climate, improving air quality, reducing flooding, and giving a home to wildlife. And, from a more grown-up point of view, trees around a home usually increase its value.

So, if you have kids and live here within the megalopolis that’s the Washington, D.C. to Boston corridor, as I do, please make a special effort to teach them about the environment in which they live and more undeveloped, natural areas nearby. Teach them why trees and streams and wildlife are important. Find a nature center and drag your kids out of the house. Make sure they smell the wonderful smells of soil and flowers. Point out how with trees and streams around, summer heat is cooler. Feel the difference. Understand the difference. And, understand why having trees in your yard is a good thing.

To learn more about trees, visit the Arbor Day Foundation.

About the Author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. She currently manages the web for the Environmental Assessment and Innovation Division. Before getting involved with the web, she worked as an environmental scientist. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 3, 2010

    You are right. In my home, I have a mango’s tree. Big and sweet. My daughter, when she was child, very happy played on and around it. We called her “Tom-Boy” but she is not care. Now, she is in university, wear pants and T-shirts, but she always drives family cars. Ya, children must have “psycho motor”, beside cognitive and affective.

  2. Ambrosia permalink
    August 3, 2010

    I am glad I bought a house with almost no trees in the yard… I had a lot of fun planting some!

  3. Brenda permalink
    August 3, 2010

    I was glad that my property didn’t have trees when I bought it. I planted 25 trees on my 1.25 acre property and I was able to select trees that wouldn’t drop seed pods or fruit, were planted away from underground water lines and overhead power lines, and provided shade in the summer and dropped the leaves so I could enjoy winter sun. Now that my property is fully landscaped, many years later, those same trees support my hammocks, which is the slow reward for all my hard work.

  4. Charley permalink
    August 3, 2010

    •Trees are expensive to get cut down when they get old.
    Yes, there is an expense to the “benefit of trees”.
    •Unless they are evergreen you’ll need to rake leaves in the fall.
    Yes, like the sun rises and sets, some trees shed leaves.
    •Tree roots can damage your foundation and patio.
    Yes, if planted too close.
    •Limbs can fall on and damage your house or cars.
    Yes, weak limbs can fall. Airplane parts can fall.
    But stop to think of the benefits! The oxygen, the shade and protection of the house, the beauty, the savings on power consumption are a few of the benefits. Respect life.

  5. darwinIam permalink
    August 3, 2010

    Trees cool through shading, transpire through rooting systems, respire through their growth, and use photosynthesis to maintain their health and growth.
    The problem of trees untimely deaths are usually due to impervious driveways, and compactions around landscaping by those unaware of arbor care.

    Richard Darwin Inskeep

  6. Serge.N permalink
    August 4, 2010

    There’s a huge difference between having trees in the yard and having trees to shade the house! If you have trees for the relationship to nature, then you cannot be wrong. But if you define your trees to shade the house, you’re looking for problems. Of course it can be done but it’s not as easy as it sounds. By far it’s better to have fixed or movable solar protections. With automation, the house takes care of itself and you can enjoy the view without being worry for this tree that can damage your house and without blaming this trunk for blocking the view.

  7. sarah nicely permalink
    August 29, 2010

    I agree and disagree…while trees do offer beauty and shade, they also can leave major cracks in the concrete. When i bought my house, we were up agains a nasty tree called a Russian Olive, not only did it destroy the drive way, it also was a major source of nasty smelling litter every fall!

  8. Abel permalink
    November 2, 2010

    I think trees would be great! Helps the environment and shades us!

  9. Chris permalink
    November 9, 2010

    I whole heartedly agree with what you have to say. We have to protect the environment. It helps sustain life.

  10. Jake permalink
    November 9, 2010

    I think trees have many purpose in our environment It covers up from the heat of the sunlight. Although It is dangerous when the storm comes.

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