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Celebrate Cleaner Air, Celebrate Arbor Day

This Friday, April 29, is, arguably, one of the most underrated holidays on the calendar. There’s no gift giving or partying. Arbor Day is only observed by schools, service organizations and some communities. But what about families?

Unlike gifts given during popular holidays, giving the gift of a tree is literally giving a gift that keeps on growing, often beyond the giver’s lifetime. Trees can keep growing for hundreds of years. As they grow, they keep sequestering the carbon that’s said to cause global warming.

During their centuries of growth, trees give us the gift of life. They take in carbon dioxide (CO2) and use it in the food making process known as photosynthesis. The waste products given off by the tree are the oxygen we need to breathe and water. This alone should elevate the status of Arbor Day.

It’s fun to celebrate Arbor Day as a family. If you can’t do it on Friday, postpone your celebration until the weekend. Your celebration may be as simple as planting the seedling your child brought home from school or as elaborate as a trip to the garden center to select a tree and then bringing it home and planting it.

For best results, I suggest that you plant the seedling in an appropriate size pot and then transplant it in progressively larger pots for several years until it’s big enough to live on its own. Otherwise, it could get stepped on, eaten by animals or run over by the lawnmower. When the tree grows to the same size as nursery shrubs, then it’s safe to plant it in the ground.

Before going to the garden center to select your Arbor Day tree, select a planting site. When making your selection, read the nursery tags so you buy the right plant for the planting site. When ready to plant, involve the whole family. Dig a hole two or three times bigger around than the root ball but only as deep as the ball. Place the tree in the hole and have someone hold it straight while you backfill. Periodically, tamp the soil lightly as you backfill. This eliminates air pockets. Finally, water well. Don’t stake unless it’s planted in a very windy place.

Happy Arbor Day to you and yours.

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