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Celebrating Arbor Day

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Historical photo showing the first celebration of Arbor Day in the United States

This year, Arbor Day is observed Friday, April 24th, this year, with many springtime activities limited – taking a few hours to choose, plant, and care for a tree in your space is a great use of time and will be a worthwhile investment. Arbor day began in 1872 and was pioneered by an innovative western settler in the Nebraska Territory, J. Sterling Morton, originally from Detroit. The purpose of the day was to reflect on the value of trees, our natural environment, and civic engagement. As time as passed we have learned so much about integrating, trees, shrubs, and other elements of the natural landscape into our “human” environment. Trees can help increase your property value, they also have health benefits for you and your surrounding community; and when done on a city wide scale, they are shown to start to decrease costs on the healthcare system.

Tree lined walkway with benches

All of this being said, you may wonder? Okay, what do I plant, where do I find it and how do I plant it right? To begin, in the remainder of this article we are focusing on the Southeastern United States, and relying on the scientific data for this area. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Extension Service (Otherwise known as UF/IFAS) provides an informative guide to native tree species that’s a great place to start, as well as a breakout of underappreciated native shade trees. For those seeking a more tropical feel, they also do a good walk-through on palms as well. Now that you’ve seen what’s out there to plant, you need to pick a spot, and there’s a guide for that too, “Tree Planting Site Evaluation”.

Diagram showing how best to plant and plan for trees on your property

So – you have decided on the right kind of tree, and just where to put it; and you’re ready to head to the nursery. Hold on – make sure you read “Selecting quality trees from the nursery”. Depending on what species and size, a tree an be a bit of an investment, so take your time and choose wisely.

Picture of a containerized tree nursery

Once you bring your tree home, or have it delivered – the fun begins. Set aside a few hours for planting, and proper fertilization of the tree.

Make sure you understand as the tree grows you’ll have some pruning responsibilities, and should a hurricane or other large storm head your way you will have some things to think about before and after.

For some minimal investment now, a tree planted will have an immense ROI paid in beauty, property value as well as a contribution to local and global health and sustainability.

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