- Does the severe weather of the past several years have you looking up at your trees in fear? It’s an understandable concern. A big storm could destroy the plants’ majesty in a flash — and send a quarter-ton branch crashing down onto your roof. Still, before you preemptively chip a favorite tree into mulch, consider this: It may be contributing 8% to 10% to your home’s value, according to Scott Cullen of the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.
Here’s how to keep your leafy assets from becoming a liability.
- Schedule regular upkeep
- Have your trees inspected every five years or so — a free service offered by tree-care companies. An arborist will look for branches that are weak or hanging within 10 feet of a building, and send workers to remove them.
- If necessary, they’ll also buttress the tree against high winds by cabling limbs together. All this work costs about $200 to $400 a tree and is typically needed only once a decade.
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- In many cases the tree will more than cover the cost of its maintenance over a few years; a big shade tree will knock nearly $70 off annual air conditioning bills, says David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service, and a large evergreen that blocks winter winds will reduce heating costs by around $60 a year.
Bonus: Trees also provide protection from road noise and basement flooding.
Get removal right
- When a tree becomes diseased or dangerously overgrown given its proximity to a house, your arborist will recommend taking it down.
- Removing a substantial tree could cost $2,000 to $5,000, depending on its size and whether it is accessible by truck or requires climbing — and what’s underneath that the crew must protect.
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- You can have the stump ground down to just below grass or mulch height for $50 to $200 more. Or carve a trough in the top, drill some drainage holes, and use it as a planter.
Invest in new growth
- To replace an unsafe tree or propagate a bare lot, look for varieties that grow quickly and have compact spreads to minimize pruning headaches, says Charlotte, N.C., landscape architect J’Nell Bryson.
A local nursery can suggest good options and plant eight-footers for $250 to $500 each. In about a decade they could add tens of thousands to your property value, probably the best investment return you’ll ever make.