Why Plant Big Trees?

Posted: April 23, 2012

Planting large trees is so advantageous, the better question may be, “why not Big Trees?”...

When properly selected, located, planted, and maintained, native overstory trees:

•    provide shade and funnel air in the summer for cooling, and form windbreaks in the winter for warming,
•    soak up excess storm water, filter pollutants, and control erosion,
•    improve community aesthetics and increase property values,
•    provide bird and other wildlife habitat,
•    reduce energy costs, clean the air, and sequester carbon dioxide,
•    contribute to the health of our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

Big trees are native species such as oaks and maples that grow taller and cast shade over a wider area than do smaller trees such as dogwoods and flowering cherries.  Big trees need room to grow and take longer to mature, but they provide greater and longer-lasting benefits to homeowners when properly sited.  If you have room in your yard for a big tree, there’s a tree species adapted to your yard’s conditions, from drier to wetter and sunnier to shadier.

Recent research by the USDA Forest Service compared the benefits of 20 year old trees of various species and found that larger shade trees provided more benefits than smaller maturing trees.  For example, a 20 year old flowering cherry intercepted 312 gallons of stormwater annually, saved 27 kWh of electricity, and removed 145 lbs of carbon dioxide, while a 20 year old red maple intercepted 1,014 gallons of stormwater, saved 71 kWh of electricity, and removed 271 lbs of carbon dioxide.

If you would like to calculate the benefits that your trees are presently providing or the future benefits from that tree you plan to plant this spring with the family to celebrate Arbor Day, you can visit   

Are you ready to plant a “big tree” this spring.   Visit for some help selecting

By Vincent Cotrone, Forester, ISA Certified Arborist, Penn State Extension.