Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


The Real Estate Value of Trees

$195,140 worth of birches?

$195,140 worth of birches?

We once had to do a lot of talking to convince a client that he didn’t want to chop down a healthy live oak that was just beginning to develop the kind of dramatic architecture that can’t be purchased with anything other than time. Since then, I’ve been wanting a dollar value for what a tree can add to a property, a number that’s easily cited and perhaps easily dismissed, but undeniably monetary and specific. A number like $8,870, the number that a recent study came up with after looking at how the presence or absence of street trees affected the sale prices for homes sold in east Portland during 2006-7. (The houses with trees also sold an average of 1.7 days quicker.) It’s obviously one of those statistics which can’t be applied too literally, but the researchers seem to have made an effort to account for some of the other variables that might surround the real estate sales. And though it is somewhat mercenary and doesn’t account for the many environmental and aesthetic benefits of trees and there probably isn’t a direct causal relationship, it might help people appreciate their trees more. What homeowner could hear that stat and not go right out to get a street tree? Personally, I’m sure I’ll cite the number at some point in the future, possibly to our landlord who knows that Anita and I are responsible for adding six street trees to our block. Shouldn’t that get us $53,220 credit towards our rent?

In a somewhat related note, I’ve always liked this planting of birches in my neighborhood and this post seems like the most reasonable time to mention it. The planting has an impressive total of 22 birches, which is 19 more than anyone else ever has. I’m pretty sure the birches count as ‘good overall tree cover,’ rather than as individual $8,870 trees, but there’s no question they make the house more valuable and desirable. The trees do the sun-in-winter, shade-in-summer thing for the house, and the planting always looks remarkably good, even when the understory needs maintenance. Designers talk about being bold or committed; 22 birches shows a serious level of commitment. Props to whoever planted them.


5 Responses to “The Real Estate Value of Trees”

  1. July 6th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Denise says:

    Love this post, since I’ve had trees on the brain recently after experiencing first-hand what well-grown trees look like versus the miserable street specimens I see daily. You’re right, putting a price tag on trees might be the only way to arouse interest in appreciating them. (And I had to get a soft-serve at the annex HS ice cream window since the line was so long into the shop.)

  2. July 6th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    What a great read: an ice creamery that’s more John than Alice Waters… I wonder if they’d deliver me a pint of Jesus Juice or Chocolate Smoked Sea Salt.

    I like the effect of the birch forest. I wonder if the fact that they’re birches–not a particularly smiled-upon species, at least down here on the dry end of the state–makes that planting more a little more a John Waters than an Alice Waters planting choice. Still, kudos for playing the Alice Waters role in talking the client into keeping his live oak. You must run into this a certain amount, where people want something new and improved and are willing to sacrifice something only time can deliver.

  3. July 6th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    ryan says:

    Humphrey Slocombe never seems to be open when I pass by lately, which isn’t often these days, alas. I think the fact that some neighborhoods have well-grown trees and other neighborhoods have miserable specimens was a factor in this study. The difference between a healthy tree and an unhealthy one is dramatic.

    That’s great, there is a distinct John Waters element mixed in with the slow foods Alice Waters thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of myself as playing the Alice Waters role, though I suppose I have. I wonder if I’ve ever played the John Waters role…
    Because we’re in the fog belt, birches dont need all that much water in our neighborhood, so it’s probably one of the most appropriate sites in the Bay Area for that planting.

  4. July 8th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Anette the Gardener says:


    Thanks for the nice pics!

    I totally agree that trees can really add value to your house. However, I also know some people that exaggerate the number of trees they’ve planted in a relatively small garden. For example, when you pass one of our neighbors’ house it’s almost impossible to see the house. It’s completely surrounded by huge trees. It must be very dark inside their house.

    But when that’s said, I really like the way the trees in your pictures are positioned. When you do it this way, the trees definitely add value to your house. And they’re a nice view too. 🙂


  5. July 8th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Trees can add value to your house says:

    […] just read an interesting article on Dry Stone Garden showing how to use trees so that they actually add some value to your house. See for yourself how […]

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