The first thing many developers do when starting a new community is to clear cut the property. That gives them a clean slate to level, plan and build upon. While it is easier and more cost effective to do this, our builder Mark tries to keep the land closer to its natural state while also maximizing the usability of the property. Saving trees when possible is not only better for the environment but for our residents as well.
Besides adding more shade and curb appeal, here are a few of the benefits of keeping an existing tree:
1. Homeowner savings: Strategically placed trees save up to 56 percent on annual air-conditioning costs. US Forest Service
2. Mature trees in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7 percent to 19 percent.
3. One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people. North Carolina State University
Mark's quest to save trees has led to some interesting conversations around just how far we should go to save trees. For example, one of our homes that is in the final phases of construction had a large tree in the back yard as well as two on the side. The back yard however had a variation of a several feet in elevation that needed to be adjusted. The choices were to remove the tree and level the lot or find a way to save the tree while making the back yard more usable. Many opinions were shared around how much time and cost it would be to save the tree but Mark had a vision of how to save the tree and wouldn't consider removing it.
During construction, the back yard kept the slope and tree as they were until the home was within weeks of completion. Several neighbors and potential buyers had wondered out loud how the back yard would turn out and couldn't envision a way to save the tree. Mark would assure them he had a plan to save the tree and improve the back yard in the process. When the time finally came to deal with the tree, Mark's plan was brilliant.
- The back yard's grade was brought down close to level while maintaining a proper draining flow.
- A retaining wall was built at the side property line.
- A retaining wall was built around the tree to preserve the land around it.
The end result is both practical and beautiful as the retaining wall can double as seating for back yard barbecues and events. Plus the tree adds shade to the yard. The solution has received many rave reviews from visitors, residents and the buyers.
We would love to hear your thoughts on tree preservation and / or Mark's solution in the comments.