Celebrate Arbor Day in Illinois April 29 by planting trees
NEBRASKA CITY, Neb.—Illinois’ Arbor Day is nearly here, and the best way to observe the holiday is to plant trees. Arbor Day in Illinois will be celebrated on National Arbor Day, April 29.
Before you get started, you want to make sure you’re planting the right tree in the right place. A tree serves many purposes. It is wise to first determine which functions are most important to you when selecting a new tree to plant.
The main functions of a tree are:
• Shade: Trees are an excellent source for cooling because not only do they block the rays of the sun, they add water to the air through transpiration. Plant where you want the shadow during the hottest time of the year.
• Beauty: Trees add color and can enhance your home depending on where they’re planted.
• Windbreak: These are most effective when you plant trees in a dense, step-like arrangement of both conifers and deciduous trees.
• Boundaries: Trees can help delineate your property.
Once you determine the tree’s function, you need to pick the best spot to plant it. To help ensure that you plant the right tree in the right place, there are a few things to consider:
• Short flowering trees are ideal planted under power lines. These trees will not clash with the lines and will add color and beauty to your yard. Some examples of short flowering trees are redbuds, dogwoods and crabapples.
• Large deciduous trees are best used to shade your home and yard. These trees should be planted on the southeast, southwest and west side of your home to provide cooling shade in the summer and won’t obstruct the low winter sun. Examples of large shade trees are maples, oaks, spruce and many pine species.
• To slow strong winter winds, many people use evergreen trees, but large deciduous trees work well, too. Windbreaks should be planted on the north side of your home, a fair distance from the nearest structure. Spruce, firs and pine trees make fine windbreaks.
Before you plant, you should also discover which trees grow best in Illinois. To do so, consult the Arbor Day Foundation’s Hardiness Zone Map at www.arborday.org/treeinfo or contact a local nursery or arborist.
Once you’ve determined the function of your tree and which species you’d like, you’re ready to plant. You must take special care of your tree during planting time to ensure that it will grow healthy and strong.
When planting a containerized tree, there are six steps you need to take:
1. Call before you dig. Call the 811 hotline to have underground utilities located.
2. Handle your tree with care. Always lift it by its root ball and keep its roots moist until you plant it.
3. Dig the proper hole. Dig 2 to 5 times wider than the diameter of the root ball with sloping sides.
4. Dig to the proper depth. The trunk flare of your tree should sit slightly above ground level.
5. Back fill the hole with native soil. That is, unless the soil is all clay. Tamp soil gently to fill large air spaces.
6. Mulch your new tree. Add 2-3 inches of mulch around the planting area, but keep it 1-2 inches away from the trunk.
Planting instructions for bare-root trees and ball and burlap trees can be found at http://www.araborday.org/trees/tips/treePlanting.cfm.
Americans have been planting trees on Arbor Day since 1872. Nebraska City, Neb., resident, civic leader and agriculturist J. Sterling Morton urged Nebraskans to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920, more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today, the tree-planters’ holiday is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.
From the April 27-May 3, 2011, issue
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