Tree-lined streets can be found across the country, in towns, cities and villages, but is living in a verdant suburb all it’s cracked up to be?
Is it the good life?
We look at the pro’s and con’s of “leafy living” and whether a street flanked by greenery, urban or rural, can be a blessing or a nuisance, depending on your point of view.
Anyone who follows me online will probably know I have recently moved house, into a Victorian, tree-lined street, and although I’m very happy here, this is the first time I have lived in a street like this, so I decided to explore a bit outside, and write my thoughts down!
Maybe you live in a street like this, or are thinking of moving to one?
Hopefully this article will help you make up your mind.
Tree-lined streets: To live or not to live in one?
It’s a nice feeling, to be sat in my comfy sofa, looking out of my front room window, and all I can see is trees and I’m not sat staring into some house opposite with some old bird peering out of her net curtains, I like living here. It feels good.
In fact I thought to research to see if other people also feel “good” about living in a leafy lane or something. There was a study some time ago in Canada, and reported on the treehugger.com website (July 4th 2015) that living around trees brings untold benefits in terms of health and well-being. I wonder if this is a global thing? Are all nice places to live full of trees?
The report, which was complied by The University of Chicago, and a selection of agencies within Toronto, Canada found that people who live in areas with a high density of trees reported much higher perception of good health and well-being than people living in a high rise tower block.
I myself would say that’s pretty obvious, but there you go.
However they also went on to find that these people they interviewed, the one’s who live in the leafy suburbs, also had fewer health problems too, although some would suggest that comparing these people to other who live in a high rise block of flats suggests other factors to consider such as socio-economic and bad lifestyle choices.
If streets with trees planted along them make us happier, fitter and healthier, what If my local council decided to plant trees along all the “projects”, and the deprived and low income streets? I doubt somehow that it would achieve much, do you? In some cases, I could be proved wrong, but, well, you never know…..
Should be believe the estate agents?
No, honestly, I’m being serious!
If you and your partner have ever browsed Estate Agents’ windows for homes for sale, how often do you see the words “leafy area” or a “tree-lined avenue, blah blah, etc”, that’s because, whether true or not, it’s a commonly held belief that a street with trees along the road is considered “better” or more desirable to live than a street without trees.
That assumption could be taken in many ways though.
I know myself, a council estate about 5 miles from here, where each street is lined with trees but I wouldn’t call that place desirable, nor somewhere I would choose to live because trees and bushes line the roads.
So as promised, here’s my thoughts on the good bits, and the bad bits of living in a road flanked each side by greenery.
The advantages of having trees in your street..
Perceived higher physical and mental well being of residents.
We spoke earlier in this article about the study in Canada.
There was another report by, rather surprisingly, NASA of all people, who argued that trees, especially in cities are essential to help regulate the temperature of the planet.
The team at NASA said that….
“…Trees naturally cool the air by a process called evapostranspiration. It’s a process plants undergo that’s a little similar to sweating, in that released water vapour carries off heat.”
So in effect, tree lined roads on a housing estate, for example, play a much wider role in the environment, one that most people don’t know about, but one that should perhaps be encouraged?
Trees can help “clean” the air in your street.
One other very positive point to consider is the fact that trees can actually help CLEAN the air, so to speak, in primarily inner city areas. This was highlighted in a 2011 study at Southampton University.
Their study indicated that the …”urban trees of the Greater London Authority (GLA) area remove somewhere between 850 and 2000 tonnes of particulate pollution (PM10) from the air every year. …..”
It seems trees in towns and cities, apart from creating a “posh” feeling in certain streets, they actually help to clean the air around us, and absorb pollutants, in many cases, from vehicles.
Do YOU live in a leafy street?
Does it make you feel somehow better or more fulfilled than perhaps a road you used to live, with no trees or greenery? That would be something for you to sit down and have a think about as, dear reader, I don’t know where you live, or what your own street looks like, but if it DOES make you feel at home, safe and comfortable, good!
Shade from the sun on hot days
I myself have lived in houses that get “a lot of light” and whilst this is great, on the rare hot days that we get, sometimes it’s a bit “too much” so having trees and shade around your home can also give respite from too much light coming into the house.
Or you could just close the curtains…….
Closer to nature and wildlife?
Staying along the lines of an increased well being etc, trees and bushes don’t just bring you dead leaves come September, they are also home to various birds and animal species, some of which are welcome, some not so.
Bird song, for example, will only happen with tree’s and bird (obviously) so to wake up to bird song is many people’s idea of feeling like life is great!
I have to say though, in the summer months, when the sun starts to rise at 4am, bird song is NOT something that makes ME feel great, especially the fact that the couple 2 doors down keep Chickens and Geese!
(You can imagine the urban farmyard noises I wake up to if I sleep with the window open!)
The “cachet” of desirability of living in such a street. (in some cases)
We spoke earlier about the
nonsense …information that Estate Agents (Realtors) often come out with as regards to living in a tree-lined avenue. Does living in a nice, leafy road, make us FEEL better about ourselves. Some people think so.
As I have been involved in property since the 1980’s, I have been and visited A LOT of clients in that time, and often, but not always, the streets they live in are wide and green, so maybe if you own a nice house, you expect the surrounding area to be nice too?
Of course some people are wealthy enough to hire a gardener and a tree surgeon to sort the greenery out, so I’ll do the same if I win the lottery this year!
The downsides of living in a leafy street
OK, so far it seems that living amongst the leafy streets of suburbia is largely a positive thing, so what are the down sides?
Are there any? Let’s take a look….
It is a foregone conclusion that if you park your car under trees, it will get covered in all sorts of mess, meaning you have to wash your car much more often. The things that will be deposited on your car vary from season to season, so sometimes it will be pollen from trees, sometimes a sticky sap or residue, and if birds live up there, lots of you know what from our feathered friends.
Another major downside is the fact that street drains are often blocked by dead leaves, especially during autumn, and if not cleared away quickly, this can often cause localised flooding.
The image below is actually one a took in my own street, and as you can see, it isn’t even Autumn yet and already the drain near my house is blocked up with tree detritus.
Trees, especially very tall ones, can be blown down onto cars or houses in stormy weather, especially high winds after rainfall. I remember a detached house I lived in many years ago which was surrounded by tall trees. Each time we had bad weather you could hear the wind whistling through the leaves and branches, and I was always fearful that one day a tree would be blown onto the roof of our house!
Thankfully it never happened, but I hated autumn living there, so much to clean up! Thanks mother nature!
Trees can block the amount of natural light coming to your house, and also the view from your home.
This can sometimes cause disputes between neighbours, so try and not let this become an issue.
If you have trees on your own land, not ones in the streets, make sure they are well maintained and cut every other year to ensure they don’t grow into a jungle!
Keeping trees trim, tidy and pruned is often not done, or very expensive. Many UK local councils have severely cut back on their parks and gardens maintenance due to budget cuts, meaning some trees that used to be pruned each year, now face a wait of up to 5 years to trim, making the end job that much harder and more expensive.
So, not a tree-tremendously difficult decision to come to really?
In considering the above, it would seem that living in a street lined with foliage and so on, can not only make us FEEL better, possibly better than we are in reality, it can provide shade, nurture wildlife, add visual impact to the streetscape, and it can help in help to reduce pollution, but maintenance and regular leaf clearing is absolute must.The good points seem to outweigh the bad bits.
It’s hard work, but surely it’s all worth it in the end yes?