Linda Lewis Griffith

Why plant trees? How ‘our leafy friends’ can boost your health —and your home value

Planting trees can improve your health and your home value, according to retired San Luis Obispo therapist Linda Lewis Griffith.
Planting trees can improve your health and your home value, according to retired San Luis Obispo therapist Linda Lewis Griffith.

Plants have long been associated with special events in our family.

Hours after our first son was born, my husband returned to my hospital room with a massive spray of Dutch iris. We claimed Dutch irises as “Nick’s flower” and today their tall, stately blooms are pleasant harbingers of his birthday.

Later, Fred planted small stands of white bark birches for each of our boys and labeled them “Nick’s Grove” and “Neil’s Grove.”

So it was natural years later, when Grandchild No. 1 came on the scene, that we’d celebrate his arrival with a plant.

After much consideration, I opted for a pluot tree, a cross between a plum and an apricot that is particularly well-suited to our climate.

Most importantly, it will produce fruit every year on my grandson’s August birthday.

The tree was a mere stick when it went into the ground in January 2017.

Now, two years later, it stands over five feet tall. In March, it was covered in white puffy blossoms.

My husband and I aren’t the only ones inspired to plant trees.

Arbor Day, which falls on Friday this year, is an annual holiday devoted entirely to the planting, caring for and education about our branched and leafy friends.

The Arbor Day Foundation has a goal of planting 100 million new trees in forests and communities by 2022.

The original concept of Arbor Day dates back to 1594 when the citizens of Mondonedo, Spain, held the first documented tree-planting festival.

Arbor Day came to the United States on April 10, 1872, when J. Sterling Norton orchestrated the planting of 1 million trees in Nebraska.

Why is it important to plant trees?

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, trees add value to our homes by keeping them cool, serving as wind breaks, lowering heating bills and providing food and habitat for wildlife.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and emits four tons of oxygen — enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.

Trees are good medicine. In the October 2014 issue of Environmental Health, lead author David J. Nowak found that trees prevented 850 human deaths and 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms in 2010 alone.

They improve our psychological health, too.

In a study published in a 2001 issue of Environment and Behavior, researcher Rachel Kaplan found that residents of low-rise apartments whose windows looked out on nature reported a greater sense of satisfaction and well-being than those overlooking landscaped plots.

Trees also have a spiritual component. They reach into the future as a kind of living legacy.

Plant a tree today and you’ll be providing food, shade and beauty for people who may not even be born.

Plant one in a loved one’s honor, and your devotion will be apparent when you’re no longer around.

Trees do all this while asking almost nothing in return. Some manage to survive in spite of human neglect and abuse.

By the way, there’s another reason the Griffiths have their garden tools at the ready.

A second grandson is on his way at the end of summer. You can bet we’re already thinking about the tree we’ll plant in his honor.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a retired marriage, family and child therapist who lives in San Luis Obispo. Reach her at
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