Are you concerned about crime in your neighborhood? Maybe you should plant a tree.
A new study published by Environment and Behavior Journal has concluded that trees do have a suppressing effect on criminal behavior.
The authors studied crimes reported at 2,813 single-family homes in Portland, Oregon, from 2005 through 2007. They found that houses with trees planted in the public right of way had lower crime rates. More specifically, they found that lots with larger trees were associated with reduced crime, whereas those with smaller, view-obstructing trees were associated with increased crime.
It's impossible to say definitively why this should be so, but the authors speculate that the presence of significant trees is a subtle signal to potential criminals that the property is well cared for and that the people that live there may be better prepared to resist and report crime, more so than people who live in a comparable house with fewer or less impressive trees.
My trees have always given me a sense of peace, not to mention relief from the heat in summer, but who knew they were also protecting me from potential criminals? I'll certainly look at my live oaks with new respect from now on.