Value Your Trees...for everyone's benefit.
Arbor day is, by no accident, timed with the birth of spring as we slowly trudge our way out of winter. As spring flushes new growth from existing plants, it is also a good time to plant new trees as the soil is moist and the temperatures climb. Arbor Day first came into existence thanks to Julius Morton, a Nebraska journalist and politician While on Nebraska's state board of agriculture, he proposed a special day be set aside for tree planting and raising awareness of the value of trees. The event became a legal state holiday in 1885, and Morton's birthday of April 22 was crowned Nebraska's Arbor Day. So popular was the idea that other states soon followed. It was not until 1970, however, that President Nixon made the last Friday in April our National Arbor Day.
Each state has its own date based on local climate to honor this occasion, many states have elected to declare one day or a weekend. Oregon officially honors this event throughout the first entire week of April. I think this shows how much people in the great northwest revere their forested landscape. We shouldn't really need reasons to plant new trees here in Oregon, but a holiday is a holiday. So, with Arbor Day quickly approaching, we have a perfect opportunity to give a little back to our state's tree-scape.
There are many reasons to celebrate these massive organisms. Trees recycle our atmosphere; one statistic I found stated that one acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon-dioxide and returns 4 tons of oxygen per year. Trees also provide a net cooling effect for our atmosphere as they transpire and shade our earth from the sun's rays. Trees help stabilize our slopes, reduce rain's impact on our soil, absorb rainwater, and reduce sediment movement into our streams and rivers. Trees beautify our surroundings and lush landscapes have a calming effect on our overall mental health. Mature landscapes can also benefit our property values. Depending on which data source you choose to believe, a well cared for landscape can add from 7-20% to a property's value. Considering all these benefits, it seems that investing in a tree today will yield significant rewards in the future.
Planning for this long-term investment requires vision and forethought prior to actually planting your trees. The first aspect to consider is the selection of your plant material. Hardiness zone requirements, specimen tree vs. hedgerow planting, texture and colors for your landscape should be considered. Secondly, the proper placement of your trees is important. New plants are often placed too close together, causing overcrowding as they grow. Consider the mature size the tree will grow to and allow space for this expansion. Additional trees can still be planted nearby to give a young landscape a fuller feel, but plan for removing alternate trees as they grow in stature. Proximity to buildings and utility lines are also important issues. Small trees look cute near buildings when young, but soon outgrow their space. Planning for future growth is important when deciding where to dig. Speaking of digging, don't forget to "Call before your dig". The Oregon Utility Notification Center suggests you call 1-800-332-2344 for a free utility locator's service before grabbing that shovel.
You're now ready to begin planting your tree. How deep and wide to dig the hole? Adding soil amendments? Staking, mulching, aftercare? These are all important issues that will affect the survival, health, beauty, and longevity of your planting. We don't have space to cover all of these issues in today's writing, but here are a couple of suggestions. Helpful web sites to visit are www.isa-arbor.com, www.arborday.org, and www.treesaregood.com. For more personal assistance, please visit Nehalem City Park on Saturday, April 8, 2006. The Nehalem City Park Committee will be hosting an Arbor Day Celebration from 12-2pm, including a tree planting workshop. The park is located on Hugo Street in the city of Nehalem.
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(** Originally published in the March 23, 2006 edition of the North Coast Citizen newspaper, based in Manzanita, OR. )