What Are Your Trees Worth?
Many people don’t realize, however, that plants have
a dollar value of their own that can be measured by
competent plant appraisers.
If your trees or shrubs are damaged or destroyed, you
may be able to recapture your loss through an insurance
claim or as a deduction from your federal income tax.
Planning for Highest Value
A professional in the tree, nursery, or landscape industry
can help you plan, develop, install, and care for all of
your trees and plants so that each of them will be worth
more to you.
How Your Trees and Shrubs Are Valuated
Seek the advice of professionals in this industry who
have developed a set of guidelines for the valuation.
Such guidelines have been widely adopted in the field
and are recognized by insurance companies, the courts,
and, in some cases, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
What to Do If You Suffer Loss or Damage to Your Landscape Plants
A casualty loss is defined by the IRS as “… a loss
resulting from an identifiable event of sudden,
unexpected, or unusual nature.” This definition can
include such events as vehicular accidents, storms,
floods, lightning, vandalism, or even air and soil pollution.
If you suffer damage to trees or landscaping from
any type of casualty, first consult your home owner’s
insurance policy to determine the amount and kind
of coverage. Contact the insurance company to have
an appraisal made by a competent tree and landscape
professional who is experienced in plant appraisal. Have
the appraisal made right after your loss or damage.
Four Factors in Professional Valuation of Trees and Other Plants
Size. Sometimes the size and age of a tree are such that
it cannot be replaced. Trees that are too large to be
replaced should be assessed by professionals who use a
specialized appraisal formula.
Species or classification. Trees that are hardy, durable,
highly adaptable, and free from objectionable
characteristics are most valuable. They require less
maintenance; they have sturdy, well-shaped branches,
and pleasing foliage. Tree values vary according to your
region, the “hardiness” zone, and even state and local
conditions. If you are not familiar with these variables,
be sure your advice comes from a competent source.
Condition. The professional will also consider the
condition of the plant. Obviously, a healthy, wellmaintained
plant has a higher value. Roots, trunk,
branches, and buds need to be inspected
Location. Functional considerations are important. A
tree in your yard may be worth more than one growing
in the woods. A tree standing alone often has a higher
value than one in a group. A tree near your house or
one that is a focal point in your landscape tends to have
more value. The site, placement, and contribution of a
tree to the overall landscape help determine the overall
value of the plant attributable to location.
All of these factors can be measured in dollars and
cents. They can determine the value of a tree, specimen
shrubs, or evergreens, whether for insurance purposes,
court testimony in lawsuits, or tax deductions.
These steps should be taken before and after any
casualty loss to your trees and landscape. Taking them
can improve the value of your investment in nature’s
green, growing gifts and prevent financial loss should
they be damaged or destroyed.
• Plan your landscaping for both beauty and
• Protect and preserve to maintain value..
• Take pictures of trees and other landscape plants
now while they are healthy and vigorous. Pictures
make “before and after” comparisons easier and
expedite the processing of insurance claims or
deductions for losses on federal tax forms.
• Check your insurance. In most cases, the amount
of an allowable claim for any one tree or shrub is a
maximum of $500.
• For insurance, legal, and income tax purposes, keep
accurate records of your landscape and real estate
appraisals on any losses.
• Consult your local Plant Health Care professional
at every stage in the life cycle of your landscape
(planning, planting, care) and to make sure you do
not suffer needless financial loss when a casualty