Thursday, 20 September 2012

What does money have to do with trees (aside from not growing on them)?

We all know the old adage: “money doesn't grow on trees.” But there are times when this is untrue; that is to say, there are situations in which trees are—however indirectly—a source of money for you. Conversely, there are situations in which they are a drain on your money. Trees are one of the most often overlooked aspects of home ownership, and yet they have a significant impact on the finances involved therein.

When money (sort of) grows on trees:
Energy consumption: planting shade providing trees on your property not only shields you from nosy neighbours, but from the sun's burning heat as well. This translates into savings in your energy costs, as your air conditioner will not need to work as hard to maintain a cool temperature in the house.

Property value: one factor that raises the value of any given property is the presence of mature trees. In some instances, healthy trees can actually add 10% to the value of a property. If you didn't know this at the time you purchased your house, you may have unknowingly been investing in trees. This is a fine investment to make, as their benefits are numerous, but now that you know how much of your property's value is linked to the trees it's home to, it gives you pause to think: just as you would protect your home from damage with insurance, you should be protecting its extensions—particularly the ones that give it value—from damage as well. Obviously this will require some investigation: you'll need to figure out if your trees are, in fact, valuable, and just how much they are worth. You can do this by having them appraised (an arborist or a real estate agent would be qualified to do this, though the real estate agent's assessment would hold more weight). Once you know the value of the trees, see your insurance provider to find out how you can protect yourself against the financial loss associated with damage to those trees.

When trees are a money sink:
Property damage: if you have a sick tree on your property, and if it loses a branch—or even collapses altogether, the likelihood that it will damage a part of your home or other articles sitting on your property is quite high...and unfortunately, your insurance policy will not likely cover that damage. Nor will it cover you if your tree causes damage to a neighbour's property. Prevention is key here: monitor your trees closely and regularly. Trim branches so that you reduce the risk of them growing too heavy, and subsequently breaking. Keep a close watch for sickness too. Once a tree gets sick, its physical integrity is really compromised, so you should remove it as soon as you can.

Knowing these things about trees, use them to your advantage. If you have just moved into a new home and plan to stay a while, consider planting trees to increase the future value of your home. Research native species to increase your chances of success in growing healthy trees. You'll be glad you did.


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