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

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.