To celebrate National Arbor Day, which is Friday, April 27 this year, tree doctors like Ed Kollar are prescribing a dose of "ecotherapy." That's the process of growth and healing by interacting with nature.
"I've been working outside–caring, planting and enjoying trees–for over 20 years. When you spend time outside around trees, you notice the difference," Kollar says, who works at Davey's Albany, New York office.
Information from The World Health Organization affirms this. Nature offers numerous benefits, including a place to relax and recharge. In fact, research shows that being in a natural setting actually makes you feel better.
In today's fast-paced society, ecotherapy is one of the best preventative medicines. Luckily, Kollar says, trees can help improve the mind and body, which is what Tree Rx is all about.
5 Ways Trees Improve Health and Wellness
Trees save lives. Trees save more than 850 lives a year by removing air pollution. (USDA Forest Service)
Trees help you heal faster. Patients in hospital rooms that overlooked trees had shorter stays, marginally reduced complications and needed fewer intense painkillers. (Science Magazine)
Trees keep you young and fit. Having 10 or more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to being seven years younger. (Scientific Reports)
Trees reduce stress. Those living in urban neighborhoods with a sizeable tree canopy suffer less from depression, anxiety and stress. (BioScience)
Trees radiate positivity. Walking in a tree-filled space has been found to enhance mood and improve self-esteem. (Journal of Environmental Psychology)
"To reap these health and wellness benefits," Kollar says, "we need to keep trees healthy. Just like people, trees need proactive checkups."
Whether something prompts the appointment or it's simply time for an annual checkup, an arborist is a tree doctor who can suggest preemptive steps to help trees live a long, healthy life.
Prescription for Healthy Trees
Perform a health check. Use this checklist to look for nutrient deficiencies, compacted soil, disease, pests and mechanical/natural damage.
Call a tree doctor. Most arborists, including those at Davey Tree, will come out and examine your trees for free. During this checkup, Kollar says arborists will recommend "lifestyle changes" personalized for your trees. "Preventative medicine helps trees stay healthy so that they better withstand storms, pests and diseases," he says.
Implement the plan. Protect your investment and keep your trees healthy by following your arborist's seasonal tips. Trees need you to keep an eye on them and watch for potential problems. They return the favor by providing you with health benefits for years to come.
This Arbor Day, Kollar encourages you to get outside, walk in an area filled with trees and get your daily dose of Tree Rx.
"Arbor Day isn't just about planting new trees. It's also about enjoying the ones we have and keeping them healthy," Kollar says. "Get outside and take a closer look at your trees, or better yet, schedule a free tree checkup."