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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Woodsman, woodsman, spare that tree

By WENDY FACHON/ News contributor

It’s conventional wisdom to keep trees away from the house, yet just a few properly cared for trees placed closer to home can provide significant cost benefits.

Trees reduce energy costs. A few shade trees, carefully chosen and placed strategically around a single-family home, can cut air-conditioning costs by up to 50 percent. While providing shade during hot summer months, deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall to allow the sun’s energy to help warm homes in the winter.

As natural air conditioners, all trees filter and freshen the air as they produce oxygen, and coniferous trees deliver naturally scented aromatherapy.

Trees reduce water bills. Shade slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns and reduces the need for watering. Most newly planted trees need only 15 gallons of water a week. In addition, trees transpire and add moisture to dry air to help create rain.

Trees improve water quality. Trees help to mitigate stormwater flooding and runoff that carries pollutants to the ocean. They also collect rainfall and guide the water down the trunk into the earth. Trees surrounded by mulch act like a sponge to absorb and filter water naturally, helping to recharge the groundwater supply.