We all have experienced the benefits of taking a deep breath. It helps give us focus and clarity, supports physical activities, and improves mental state. Even as kids we are taught to take a deep breath and count to ten when something upsets us. However, not all breaths are the same.

According to scientists at The Morton Arboretum, breathing unclean air is linked to countless physical and mental health problems. Air pollution has been connected to numerous health issues, such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even mortality. For kids, it can cause issues with brain development and behavior. These are lasting effects that can severely impact quality of life. This is especially true in areas with high levels of air pollution, which is often related to high population density.

There is a simple, nature-based solution to help reduce air pollution in cities and suburbs, where most people live, work, and play: plant trees.

A properly planted and cared-for tree can reduce local air pollution. Trees not only take air pollution up through their leaves, but pollution particles can also be trapped on a leaf’s surface, preventing pollution from ending up in individuals’ lungs. The larger the tree, the more pollution it can remove. In addition, planting a variety of trees can help diversify what pollution, and the amount, that is captured.

The importance of trees for human health is backed by science. A small invasive pest called the Emerald Ash Borer demonstrated just how much trees mean to community health. This small insect killed an estimated 13 million trees in the Chicago area alone. Across the United States, neighborhoods have been drastically changed, as large and majestic ash trees fell prey to this insect. Scientists, controlling for extraneous variables, were able to trace the emerald ash borer infestation and death of ash trees with an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory deaths in those impacted communities.

Planting trees in your yard is a way to improve the quality of your air, and ultimately, the quality of your life. Keep in mind, it is all about planting the right tree in the right place, and giving it the right care. There are many resources available to help you pick the perfect tree for your yard. You want your tree to live a long life, so you can too!

Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.

Additional Information:
Advantages of Big Trees in the Landscape
When to Plant Trees in the Chicagoland Area
Chicago Region Trees Initiative