San Diego Tree Week: Calling All Treehuggers!

Can you imagine Balboa Park without its sigature Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Sixth and Upas? We can't. Photo: Wikimedia Commons San Diego Tree Week

Some of my favorite quotes are about trees. I love what they express about the power of nature, optimism, and time.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit” – Nelson Henderson

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” – Warren Buffett

“He who plants a tree, plants a hope” – Lucy Larcom

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now” – Chinese proverb

Can you imagine Balboa Park without its sigature Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Sixth and Upas? We can't. Photo: Wikimedia Commons San Diego Tree Week

Can you imagine Balboa Park without its signature Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Sixth and Upas? We can’t. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I love all things trees. I always have. One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was about the magic of treehouses in September 2013. When I traveled to the Pantanal region of Brazil with my son Ted in 2018, it was amazing to be immersed in dense forests of trees, especially the amazing and unusual types of trees we saw in Brazil. I’ve written about the world’s tallest tree and the Pando forest in Utah, the world’s largest living thing.

I guess this makes me a treehugger, and I’m proud to be one.

Fall is the best season for planting trees in San Diego. Late year, I planted six sycamore trees (say it six times fast!), a Palo Verde tree, a Cottonwood tree, and a Desert Willow. These are all native trees that will thrive in our hot, dry Mediterranean climate.

I’m an enthusiastic supporter of a new event in San Diego and want to let you know about it. My friends at The Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego are holding the first San Diego Tree Week from April 22 to 27, 2022. I want you to be part of it.

Be part of The Water Conservation Garden’s first San Diego Tree Week.

What is San Diego Tree Week?

Get the kids you know involved in San Diego Tree Week. Photo:

San Diego Tree Week is an initiative to bring neighbors together to plant trees in their community. Businesses, schools, and individuals will come together to celebrate the many benefits of trees.

All San Diego County residents are encouraged to take time to appreciate and understand the usefulness of trees. The campaign aims to slow climate change by educating thousands of San Diegans about the benefits of tree planting.

San Diego Tree Week will teach our community how trees grow and slow climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

How can you help? You can:

Help a squirrel out: plant some trees and provide habitat for multiple species of insects, birds, and animals. Photo J. Macdono/Pixabay

Lead a Tree Planting Event – register your team here

Volunteer at a Local Tree Planting Site – join here

Donate Some Green – If you can’t get your hands dirty, donate generously here

I’ve been thinking just how valuable trees are, especially as we experience the effects of climate change. Fighting climate change is a big job, but trees can do a lot of the work. The evapotranspiration from trees cools the ambient temperature down. This is much like how our bodies sweat to cool us down.

What happens when you plant a tree?

Imagine how bleak and hot this neighborhood would be without the mature street trees. Photo: Jay Mandri/Pixabay

Many species of trees thrive in San Diego’s climate, but some require a lot of water. It’s best to plant native trees to conserve water and preserve our biodiversity.

Whatever we can do as individuals and communities to plant more trees should be near the top of our priority list. Fixing potholes is important. I hit plenty. But I’m encouraged by efforts like San Diego Tree Week and the movement to establish parks and green spaces more equitably in our community. I don’t mind seeing my tax dollars from our government budgets spent on trees.

Every dollar spent on planting and caring for trees produces an impressive return. I couldn’t possibly list all of their benefits, but here are just a few ways trees improve our quality of life.

A tree is a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.

Trees are the world’s most powerful CO2 filters.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the main contributors to the greenhouse gases causing climate change. One average-sized 30-foot tall tree can store hundreds of pounds of CO2 over its lifetime.

Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs by 10 to 15 percent. Shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs by 20 to 50 percent. Take a look at your air conditioning bill this summer, and think about cutting it back that much!

Trees absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent.

Urban landscaping, including trees, helps lower crime rates. Where there is a large tree canopy providing shade, apartments, and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate. This boosts our local economy. Their workers also report more productivity just by having the trees outside.

Your average street or landscaping tree won’t grow to the size of these Giant Sequoias, but they will still provide shade, habitat, oxygen, and fight global warming.

In commercial districts, trees promote economic stability by attracting businesses. People linger and shop longer when trees are present. Sales taxes help pay for our government services.

Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. The urban canopy directly meets a city’s regulatory clean air requirements. Evergreen trees planted in rows can capture 85 percent of the particulate air pollution blowing through their branches.

Trees provide inviting and cool areas for recreation and relaxation, such as playgrounds and parks. We have a perfect example right in the middle of San Diego. One of our greatest civic attractions is Balboa Park, full of beautiful trees planted by visionaries like Kate Sessions a century ago. Learn more about Sessions from another local tree lover, Ken Kramer.

Trees are green in more ways than one

Jacarandas as street trees in La Mesa. Photo: Allan Ferguson, Flickr/Creative Commons License

Residential neighborhoods benefit from trees, too. In addition to a cleaner, cooler environment and energy cost savings, homes landscaped with trees are worth five to 15 percent more than homes without trees. If your whole street is lined with trees, it could be 25 percent more. In San Diego County, that’s a LOT of money – six-figure money!

People walk and jog more on shaded streets, which encourages interaction with neighbors and improves the sense of community. It also creates a much safer neighborhood due to all of the interaction and the opportunity to observe what’s going on.

California street trees alone save the amount of electricity it would take to air condition 530,000 households every year. But the number of street trees in California is running behind population growth. Street trees make up 10 percent to 20 percent of the state’s total urban forest. Tree density has declined 30 percent since 1988 as cities have added more streets than trees. Tree density fell from 105.5 trees per mile to 75 trees per mile in

The nonprofit group American Forests conducted a study in 2021 measuring street tree density in the 20 largest U.S. cities. You might think San Diego scored high. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported we need to plant four million more trees to double our current tree population and raise our “Tree Equity Score.”

The Tree Equity Score measure on a scale of 1 to 100 if a given neighborhood has enough trees in the right places, so all residents benefit from shade, cooler temperatures, and carbon reductions. You can look up and see how your neighborhood rates here.

Plant a tree, save a human

Photo: Jonny Hughes/Flickr Creative Commons

We love trees, and trees love us back. Photo: Jonny Hughes/Flickr Creative Commons

Fellow treehuggers, we need to get to work during San Diego Tree Week. Studies show that urban vegetation slows heartbeats, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain wave patterns. Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity and reduces stress.

All trees are nature’s superheroes. Lions aren’t really the kings of the jungle. Trees are.

There is ONE area where I wouldn’t plant a tree – and that’s on a shallow green roof. They grow too tall and place too much weight on an engineered roof in one spot. They also present a danger in high winds. But we did plant a tree on the “Fallen Star” green roof installation on the School of Engineering building at UCSD. We used the strongest possible system to secure the tree on the seventh floor using the same kind of bolts used on sailing ships. So far, so good.

I didn’t have a childhood treehouse. Maybe it’s not too late!

Can a potted tree enrich your life? Give us a call at858-576-9300. We’re happy to help! Or use our Contact Us page on the website.