It’s not difficult to appreciate the beautiful greenery surrounding us here in Colorado. With the heavy snow we’ve been getting, we get to see how gorgeous our trees are blooming now that spring has finally arrived. It adds to the reasons to appreciate and celebrate Arbor Day, or rather, “tree” day, a holiday that celebrates the planting, upkeep, and preservation, of trees.
While Earth Day is more notably celebrated for educational purposes on current events, Arbor Day is celebrated specifically to plant trees in consideration for the future. Whether for your home or your community, Arbor Day is an amazing opportunity to help improve our quality of life by planting trees.
History of Arbor Day
The origins of this holiday date back to the 1870s, almost 100 years before Earth Day was coined. A journalist by the name of Julius Sterling Morton moved to Nebraska City and noticed the flat, desolate terrains. As an editor for the state newspaper, he was able to write about and spread his knowledge of trees and their ecological importance to the people of Nebraska.
Once the seed was planted inside the minds of readers, it was easy to instigate the very first Arbor Day celebration. On April 10, 1872, Morton led the charge of planting approximately one million trees. The event was met with wild success, and the tradition quickly began to spread across the nation. And by 1883, an agriculturist named Birdsey Northrop began to introduce the idea to other countries like Japan, places in Europe, Canada, and Australia.
Trees play an incredibly important role in our everyday life. They remove a lot of pollutants from the atmosphere, and by absorbing carbon dioxide, removing and storing the carbon, and then releasing the oxygen back into the air, they’re helping to stop climate change. They also help with stress relief and have proven to reduce minor crimes and domestic aggression due to a more balanced environment. And when planted properly, trees can add value to your home by adding shade during the summer months and reducing winter winds during the colder months, thus reducing your home’s energy costs.
But no matter what reason you want to plant a tree, ArborScape has you covered. So if you’re looking to plant a tree this Arbor Day (or any other day), here are some tips and tricks to remember:
If you’re starting on your own, here are a few things you’ll need to know. Trees are an investment of time, energy, and money, but planting a tree correctly and seeing it through maturity will provide numerous environmental, economic, and social rewards during the tree’s entire lifetime- and even after! Trees Are Good has some great educational tips on maintaining your tree’s health.
Some things to remember, dormant seasons are typically the best time to plant a tree, as the weather conditions are typically cool enough to allow time for the plants to establish roots in their new location, and before the rain and summer heat can stimulate top growth. And to ensure no stress to your tree, make sure the site has had proper preparation, careful handling from start to finish, and adequate follow-up care to reduce transplant shock.
We’ve written about why choosing the right tree for you is important, and there are many sites that give great advice on planting, but here are some easy steps to follow:
Planting in 9 Steps
- Start by digging a shallow, broad planting hole. Holes should be 2–3 times wider than the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball.
- If wrapped, remove any coverings from around the root ball and trunk to facilitate root growth. Remove the wire basket or cut one or two rings off so it is low-profile and will not interfere with future root growth. Inspect the tree root ball for circling roots and straighten, cut, or remove them. Expose the trunk flare if necessary.
- Place the tree at the proper height. When placing the tree in the hole, lift it by the root ball, not the trunk. The majority of a tree’s roots develop in the top 12 inches (30 cm) of soil. Remember, planting too deep can be harmful to the tree.
- Straighten the tree in the hole. Before filling the hole, have someone examine the tree from several angles to confirm it is straight.
- Remember, the trunk flare is where the trunk expands at the base of the tree. Ensure the trunk flare is partially visible after the tree is planted. Remove excess soil prior to planting if the flare is not visible.
- Fill the hole gently but firmly. Pack the soil around the base of the root ball to stabilize it, then fill the hole firmly to eliminate air pockets. You can further reduce air pockets by watering periodically while backfilling. Avoid fertilizing at the time of planting.
- If staking is necessary, three-stakes or underground systems can help provide optimum support. While studies show that trees develop stronger trunks and roots if they are not staked, it’s sometimes required when planting bare root stock or on windy sites. You can remove the stakes after the first year of growth.
- Mulch the base of the tree. Place a 2–3 inch (5–7.5 cm) layer of mulch, but be sure not to pile too much right against the trunk. A mulch-free area of 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) wide at the base of the tree will reduce moist bark and prevent decay.
- Follow-up care is a must. Keep the soil moist by watering at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot, windy weather. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off as lower temperatures require less-frequent watering.
And if you ever need extra help, ArborScape is more than happy to help! Our team of certified tree care professionals can help assist you with your tree investments. We help with tree pruning, total tree removal, emergency tree care, and other basic plant health care and maintenance. Check out our specific services and let us know how we can help you celebrate Arbor Day to the fullest.