By Linda O'Connor
If you're celebrating Arbor Day, then you're thinking about where to plant a tree.
If you live in Nebraska, you know Arbor Day is a state holiday in April--and for a good reason. That’s where the idea to observe a special day to plant trees started with J. Sterling Morton.
When he and his wife moved from Detroit to the Nebraska Territory in 1854, he could see trees were needed to act as windbreaks for people and wildlife on the wind-swept plains.
During his life, the newspaper editor planted many, many trees and encouraged others to do the same. He believed so strongly in planting trees that he proposed a holiday with contests and prizes awarded to individuals or communities planting the most trees.
By the time the first Arbor Day was celebrated in 1874, Nebraska had become a state, and hundreds and hundreds of trees had been planted thanks to J. Sterling Morton’s efforts. Other states observed their own Arbor Days, and in 1970, former President Richard Nixon declared the last Friday in April as the national observance of Arbor Day.
Depending on where you live, the date for Arbor Day could be different.
Arbor Day observances are now related to the best time to plant a native tree so it can grow and prosper. While many observations are in April, people who live in Louisiana and Florida observe Arbor Day in January, while those in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia plant trees in February. In other states, Arbor Day is observed in May, November or December because that’s the best time to plant a tree.
Trees not only act as shade, but provide building material and fuel, shelter and food for humans and wildlife. Trees also provide erosion control.
There are a lot of things to think about when you’re deciding what kind of tree to plant.
For example, you might wonder how long a particular kind of tree might live. How big will the tree eventually grow? That means you might need to figure out if your tree would grow too close to a building, sidewalk or road. Would the tree do well during all seasons of the year? Would an icy winter harm it? Do you want to plant a deciduous tree that drops its leaves in fall? Or a coniferous tree that stays green all year? Do you want to plant and space out a hundred or more seedlings for a windbreak?
You can learn more about Arbor Day and planting trees at http://www.arborday.org/
-- Linda O’Connor