Economy got you down? Plant a tree

By Douglas Still
Providence, RI (May 5, 2009)- We all know the economy is in rough shape. Many people are looking for work, budgets are tight, home sales are stalled, spirits are low. It’s probably a bad time to persuade you to plant a tree, right? Well, I suggest just the opposite. If you’re down in the dumps, there’s no better time to plant a tree than spring 2009. Whether you purchase one for your yard or join a volunteer effort, there are several reasons why planting a tree will help you.

It will make you feel good. Take a break from the computer screen and the want ads for a few hours and do something that provides instant gratification! You’ll be surprised what a welcome distraction tree planting will be, as you roll up your sleeves and contribute something to the world that is alive and tangible. Soon the tree will push out new leaves and reach for the sky, a symbol of growth and better times on the way.
Having trees and green nearby will reduce your stress level. Personal health factors, both mental and physical, are some of the least recognized benefits that trees provide. One study from Texas A&M University showed that visual exposure to settings with trees can produce significant improvement from stress within five minutes, shown by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension. Another study in the journal Science (Ulrich 1984) found that hospital patients whose rooms overlook trees recover faster, require fewer pain killers, and leave the hospital sooner.
Can’t get the price you want for your home? Planting trees may help. According to research by the USDA Forest Service in conjunction with realtors, mature trees can add an average of 10 percent more value to a property. Even though it will be years before your newly planted tree is mature, the small investment needed to purchase your tree may reap immediate benefits many times over due to improved curb-appeal. Even if you aren’t selling your home now, you may want to someday!
Planting trees means taking part in something larger than yourself, both locally and globally. The environmental benefits of an “urban forest” are well documented, such as cleaner air and water, reduced energy use, storage of carbon to reduce greenhouse gases, and others.
Mayor Cicilline and the city have undertaken an effort to increase canopy cover from 23 percent to 30 percent by the year 2020, a part of the mayor’s “Greenprint: Providence.” Every tree you plant contributes to this goal. See the Trees 2020 website to see how far we’ve come toward our 40,000-tree goal, and be sure to report any tree you plant so that we can count it. Also, all trees reported to us will in turn be reported to the United Nations Billion Tree campaign, whose new goal is to plant 7 billion trees worldwide by the end of 2009.
Purchase a tree through Trees 2020, a program for Providence homeowners to make top-quality trees available for your own yard at affordable prices. The city has already taken care of a significant part of the cost, along with its partner Groundwork Providence and funding provided by the Helen Walker Raleigh Tree Care Trust of the Rhode Island Foundation. You can pick up the tree yourself, or we’ll deliver it to you at low cost as well.
In preparation for Mother’s Day, think of giving a tree this year! Plant a tree for Memorial Day, or in memory of someone special. The program takes donations online, and will arrange to have trees planted in city parks or locations in great need of increased tree cover. If you have a loss in the family, directing donations to Trees 2020 for local tree planting in lieu of flowers will make our city a better place.
Don’t have any dough? There are ways to get involved in tree efforts in your community. Although the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program ( has wrapped up its street tree planting this spring, you can start organizing a neighborhood planting for the fall. The deadline is June 1.
Trees 2020 is also looking for volunteers to help with greening efforts around Providence. Additionally, the R.I. Tree Council ( frequently calls for volunteers around the state to assist with planting or tree care projects, and offers its well-loved Tree Stewards course for those interested in learning more about trees. They have their finger on the pulse of most things tree-related in our region.
Put your cares aside briefly and plant a tree. It will raise your spirits, now more than ever.
Douglas Still is Providence city forester.
Related Resources:
Providence Journal- Economy got you down? Plant a tree
Trees 2020