CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Change the Future: Plant a Tree

 Photo Credit: Bruce Marlin, Morton Arboretum


By CSU Horticulture Agent Linda Langelo

Trees are more valuable to us because they are an integral part of our lives.  Without trees we would have less oxygen since they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Trees cool the atmosphere. Trees give us food and materials to build our homes and so much more. If you have space in your landscape, consider adding another tree. Here are two reasons why:

1)      It is good to have a diversity of trees in your landscape. If they are all the same, when one is effected by a disease the other trees are not a host to it.  But there are many more benefits to trees. They cool the air, land and water if strategically placed. According to the Arbor Day Foundation trees cool shaded surfaces between 20 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit below the peak temperature of any surface in full sun nearby.  

2)      As for larger towns and cities, trees can be used to cool the street and homes. Trees release water vapor into the air through their leaves cooling the town or city down 10 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, one single small tree has the capacity to cool as much as 10 single room air conditioners over a 20 hour period. The best part is it doesn't impact your electric bill to cool the environment around you. Well almost. You do need to water the tree. Trees need water during extended periods of drought and during fall and winter. Here is a Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet on Fall and Winter Watering:
Fall and Winter Watering (

On a global scale, forests remove about one-third of fossil fuel emissions annually from 1990 to 2007.  Trees remove pollution such as the 26,000 tons removed from Greater Kansas City each year. Wildfires occurring in the west and other places globally, lessen the capacity of forests to remove fossil fuels or add to the cooling capacity of the environment.

However, new research in a paper titled, "Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot worldpublished in the journal of Global Environmental Change had 22 co-authors from the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Peru, Indonesia, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Belgium all stated, the more important process that trees assist with in our environment is the redistribution of water. According to David Ellison, they redistribute water and simultaneously cool planetary surfaces. These scientists are determining that deeper roots, trees can maintain their cooling function even during long-lasting heat waves.  In Extension, we teach water deeply and less frequently with all plants from trees to vegetables.  Trees are a very important part of the hydrologic cycle. 

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, 180 million Americans depend on forest watersheds for their drinking water. The natural water filtration trees provide can lower costs associated with drinking water treatment.  

The U.S. Forest Service states that trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and can save 20-50% in energy used for heating.  On a larger scale in Cincinnati community trees save the average household $56 annually in cooling costs by reducing electricity use. 

Overall, the U.S. Forest Service states “every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yields benefits that are two to five times that investment. Why? Trees clean our air, lower energy costs, improve water quality and storm water control and increase property values”.  

If you are not sure of what trees to plant and where, then test the soil and find trees that do well in the soil in your landscape.  Be sure to place them with enough space for them to grow. If you need planting instructions here is a link:

If you need tree suggestions here is a link to Plant Select which has all types of plants that after being trialed are selected as some of the best plants for Colorado:

If you need suggestions for Small Deciduous trees, here is a CSU Fact Sheet:

If you need suggestions for Large Deciduous trees, here is a CSU Fact Sheet:

If you still have questions after reviewing the fact sheets and other materials, please contact your local Extension Office. We can help better inform you towards making the right choice.  I hope if you have the space that you decide to plant a tree.



  1. Excellent article...this from a tree 🌳 team member in Boulder Extension. Hope to see this in newspapers across the State. Thanks

    1. Thanks for your compliment. Trees are so important. They are part of the hydraulic system where they release water vapor into our atmosphere and take in CO2 and give us oxygen. But you know all this. I will certainly circulate this around to newspapers.

  2. Yes, a good article. We planted 1 more tree in our yard last fall-a linden. Most folks have room for 1 more tree:)And the need to plant has many reasons.

    1. This is one small way we can help cool the Earth!

  3. Wonderful--thanks for posting Here is a link to Judy Dench, My Passion for Trees. information most probably know- but beautiful with such a genuine presenter- and so encouraging to hug our trees a little closer!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.