It is widely accepted that trees and landscapes have
value. Annual lawn and garden expenditures across the
United States are in the billions. Trees are recognized as
contributing functional use to Architectural, Engineering,
Aesthetic and Climate Control for an individual property and for
a municipality as a whole(1).
Commonly in an Appraisal
we are estimating the "contributory value of plants
and landscapes for an asset standpoint or plants damaged
by some occurrence."(2)
"The appraisal process can be defined as the act,
manner, or technique of conditioning the steps of an
So how do you determine
the value of a tree or landscape as an asset or when it
has been damaged by fire, criminal mischief, vandalism
Approaches to Appraisal of Trees and Landscapes
The Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers Guide
for Plant Appraisal, ninth edition(4)
main approaches to appraising a trees value.
For the Cost
Approach it is the assumption that the cost to
repair or replace plants and landscape items (less
depreciation) for Condition and possibly Location
and Species can be added to the land value in order
to arrive at the total property value.
formula method is used to attach a monetary
value to a tree too large for reasonable
transplant. The determination of value
is based on the "largest commonly
available transplantable tree and the cost
of installation plus the increase in value
due to the larger size of the tree being
This number is depreciated according to
Species, Location and Condition.
The Cost of
Repair Methods and the Cost of Cure Methods
are appropriate for damaged plants that can
be repaired and for properties that can be
restored to previous condition.
Approach is used to appraise income-producing
properties. This approach is generally used
for nurseries, orchards, and tree farms. It
could also be used where a property has a historic
tree and admission can be charged to view it.
Approach is the third method in appraisal.
This technique relies on property sales: that
is comparing prices of comparable properties in
order to estimate a property's value.
Comparable costs are taken for properties in the
area. One approach is this method is to
consider what the property would cost with and
without the tree and/or landscape. This
approach should only be used by a licensed real
estate appraiser but can be used by an arborist to
check for reasonability of his/her appraisal.
In all appraisals the
appraiser is to be reasonable and objective.
In an appraisal the appraiser is not to take the role of
an advocate but retain his/her independence.
Key definitions that
need to be understood.
Individual prices needed to determine an appraisal.
Price - Price
is what you'd pay in the market, "ready to
wear" or "off the shelf." What
you'd play for an existing house, plant or tree(6).
Value - Value
is the present worth of future benefits, IOW what
this thing does for you today given X remaining life(7).
The act of determining the defined value of plants
or trees in a landscape or woodland setting(8).
Being within bounds of reason: not extreme(9).
Judson R. Scott, Vine & Branch Inc.
(1) Guide for Plant Appraisal, Council of Tree and
Landscape Appraisers, 9th edition, International Society
of Arboriculture, Champaign, IL, 2000
(2) Ibid pg.19
(3) Ibid pg.19
(4) Ibid pg.19
(5) Ibid pg.19
(6) Scott Cullen, Registered Consulting Arborist,
American Society of Consulting Arborist, personal
(7) Scott Cullen, personal communication
(8) Scott Cullen, personal communication
(9)The Merriam Webster Dictionary, Merriam Webster Inc,
Springfield MA 1997