On average, the Park Hill neighborhood of East Denver runs anywhere from 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit lower than downtown.
With just a couple of miles separating Park Hill from the skyscrapers, this data is somewhat surprising.
So how can we explain the cooler temperatures in the Park Hill neighborhood?
The answer: trees.
Park Hill has such a vast and expansive canopy of trees that they actually work to keep Park Hill cooler during the summer months.
Pretty incredible, huh?
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the benefits of trees in the Park Hill Community, and share how to get involved in keeping Park Hill the coolest neighborhood in Denver (literally)!
The History of Trees in Park Hill
Before the settling of Denver, the area to the east of the Rocky Mountains was exclusively grassland.
That means that every tree lining the streets of Park Hill was planted by humans.
Many of these trees were planted during the late 1800s and early 1900s when Mayor Robert W. Speer began his “City Beautiful” campaign in Denver.
The city gave away many trees during this time, leading residents in the Park Hill area to line the streets with Siberian and American Elms, silver maples, and ash trees.
The trees planted during the “City Beautiful” campaign in the early 1900s still largely remain today. Whether you’re cruising on a bike or going for a joyride, you’re sure to find a shady spot to pull over and unwind.
The Benefits of Trees
There are many benefits that trees bring to a community. And when they are numerous, large, and shady like the ones in Park Hill, the canopy is especially rich.
“Shading of structures reduces direct cooling costs, and shading of impervious surfaces reduces air temperatures,” Denver Forestry Inspector Michelle Ferguson says. “The shading provided by trees is particularly important to combat the impacts of urban heat where city centers are hotter than surrounding areas. With climate change, the need for trees and tree maintenance is greater now more than ever.”
While trees undoubtedly help residents to save on energy costs and contribute to the growing effort in Denver towards sustainable living, there are also mental health benefits that come living in a forested region.
Research has shown that people exposed to areas with good canopy cover experience a third less psychological stress.
Additionally, proximity to forested areas have been linked to amygdala integrity. This means that forests can structurally improve your brain’s capacity to handle stress.
Some other benefits of forested areas include:
- Reduced feelings of loneliness among young people and older populations
- Blocking of urban noise pollution
- Increased community social cohesion
- Lower rates of depression, anxiety, and psychological disorders
With all these advantages, who wouldn’t want to cool down in Park Hill?
How You Can Contribute
The city of Denver has continued Mayor Speer’s tradition of planting trees through Be A Smart Ash.
There, you learn more about getting a free tree in the “right of way.”
“One of the best things you can do for the urban forest is plant a new tree yourself!” Ferguson says. “At Be A Smart Ash, you can look up what trees are in the right of way, which is especially useful for ash trees.”
In Denver, ash trees are impacted by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle that attacks ash trees and kills them very quickly.
At Be A Smart Ash, you can determine if your ash tree is an ash in the right way of way, if it is being treated already by the City, and additional information about the EAB.
Another great practice you can take up is watering your trees. Newly planted trees need to be watered throughout the year to establish themselves, and older trees need water throughout the year to maintain their health in Colorado’s hot and dry climate.
If you have questions or concerns, you can always contact a forestry inspector or licensed tree contractor, both of which can be found at Denver Forestry.
Park Hill is cool for a lot of reasons.
It’s also literally the coolest neighborhood in Denver, thanks to our favorite forested friends: trees.
Trees can help to lower your energy costs, improve your mental health, and make a positive impact on the thriving, cohesive community cultivated in Park Hill.
They also make a positive impact on the fight against climate change—contributing to Denver’s vision for a sustainable future.
Looking to move to Park Hill? Contact us today for a consultation! We’d love to welcome you to our treeful neighborhood.
By: Jack Berning