When I was a kid, I lived on a quiet dead-end street that just so happened to be lined with what looked to me like a forest of oak and maple trees. I lived in a busy suburb of Chicago and we had parks, but nowhere did I see as many trees as we had on that street.  

In the fall, the trees would change and turn the most beautiful colors of yellow, orange and red. I’d take out a lawn chair and park it right in the middle of the road (much to my mother’s frustration) and just look at the trees for hours, as if the picture would burn into my memory forever.  

Being among the trees is my happy place. The sounds they make when the wind blows. The blossoms in the spring, shade in the summer, colors of the fall — I find myself just marveling at them as they evolve and change even as I get older.  

My love of trees is the reason I love Arbor Day, a tree-planting holiday that began in 1872. 

A New Holiday

Arbor Day started in a somewhat barren area of Nebraska (U.S.), where early settlers craved the benefits of trees. They knew that trees would help break up strong winds, protecting the soil on their farms from blowing away. Trees would also provide valuable shade on hot days and essential lumber for building.  

To encourage support for the resurrection of more trees, local officials hosted a celebration and offered prizes to individuals who participated. That first Arbor Day resulted in the planting of roughly 1 million trees. 

News of the annual event spread quickly, eventually becoming a state holiday in Nebraska. Soon legislators in other states began recognizing Arbor Day and by 1920, 45 states and territories were celebrating the day in some way. (Click here for more history of Arbor Day.) 

Today, all 50 states recognize the day with various events. The most common date for state observance is the last Friday of April, but this can vary, depending on the weather. In warmer climates, tree planting weather falls early in the year, in January or February. In cooler climates, it’s best to wait until the thaw in April or May before planting trees.  

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Arbor Day represents a hope for the future and a belief that “trees will grow to provide us with clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities and endless natural beauty — all for a better tomorrow.” 

I couldn’t agree more. 

***There are many benefits to trees. To learn how they impact your ecological footprint, click here. 

***There are specific techniques and factors to consider before planting a tree. For tips on how to properly plant a tree, click here. 

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