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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 39, Issue 6 — November 2013

Homeowner Interactions with Residential Trees in Urban Areas    (View PDF)

Jana Dilley and Kathleen L. Wolf

Abstract: Urban forests are a critical element in sustainable urban areas because of the many environmental, economic, and social benefits that city trees provide. In order to increase canopy cover in urban areas, residential homeowners, who collectively own the majority of the land in most cities, need to engage in planting and retaining trees on their properties. This collaborative research project surveyed homeowners in Seattle, Washington, U.S., to examine their behaviors and attitudes toward the trees on their property. Attitudes toward trees were mapped to examine geographic distribution, as Seattle has a legacy of neighborhood-based planning. Results show that homeowners planted trees during non-optimal times of the year, preferred trees that are small at maturity over trees that are large at maturity, and showed increased interest in fruit trees. Homeowners intend to plant fewer trees in the future than they have in the past. This research is a model for social science efforts that can be used to develop targeted public outreach programs at the neighborhood scale to increase the planting and retention of trees on residential property.

Keywords: Benefits; Canopy Cover; Fruit Trees; Homeowner; Human Dimensions; Neighborhood Planning; Private Property; Residential Trees; Seattle; Social Science; Tree Planting; Washington

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