Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:26 pm

A study has identified traits to look for when choosing trees to plant around your home to combat dangerous traffic air pollution…

Planting trees around your home is a great way to boost your garden privacy and create a better view from your home, but more importantly, trees can help buffer your property from dangerous traffic air pollution.

We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time. Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” says Professor Prashant Kumar, Founding Director of the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) at the University of Surrey.

“Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year” – Prof Prashant Kumar, University of Surrey.

GCARE air pollution experts reviewed research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. They found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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Everyday air pollution could take 3 years off your life

Grow a green barrier

“The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution. We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” says Prof Kumar.

The team identified influential traits for tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution. Some of these traits include:

  • Small leaf size
  • High foliage density
  • Long in-leaf periods (evergreen or semi-evergreen)
  • Micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness

This means that bushy, evergreen trees are the way to go, especially if you live near a busy road.

Source: The University of Surrey via