In Praise of Street Trees!

The humble tree offers myriad benefits for the streets of our towns, says a recent blog post from the Kansas City planning studio of Gould Evans. While most people probably see them as a nice but unnecessary neighborhood feature, “street trees” can offer many social, environmental and economic boosts.

First, there’s the basic benefit of shade. As Strong Towns contributor Sarah Kobos wrote last year in “The Magic of Tree-Lined Streets,” a tree-lined street on a hot summer day means the difference between a comfortable walk or bike to work, and an unpleasant, sweat-soaked forced march. In the south, an unshaded summer walk or wait at the bus stop can be downright dangerous.

Robert Whitman at Gould Evans also explains that street trees have many positive environmental (and in turn, economic) impacts including intercepting rainfall, removing air pollutants, and conserving energy.

Whitman also shares some data from the USDA on the improved property values that street trees bring:

Property values can be heavily influenced by the presence of street trees. Houses on a well-treed street have an estimated increase in value of $8,870 each, and a reduced time on the real estate market by almost 2 days. (2) Even just one street tree can add an average of $12,828 combined to the properties within 100 feet.

Street trees also bring increased value to commercial districts. Whitman writes:

In a University of Washington study, consumers consistently rated shopping districts with ample trees as very positive compared to similar shopping districts without trees.

Street trees are even said to decrease auto speed and lower crime.

If you’re getting enthused about increasing the amount of street trees in your neighborhood, don’t wait to plant them. The benefits of a shade-providing, property value-boosting tree come after years of growth.

Read more about the benefits of street trees on the Gould Evans blog.

This blog entry was originally published here.


The mission of Strong Towns is to support a model of growth that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient.

The American approach to growth is causing economic stagnation and decline. It has made America’s cities financially insolvent, unable to pay even the maintenance costs of their basic infrastructure. A new approach that accounts for the full cost of growth is needed.

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