National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April by many states, including Michigan and Wisconsin.
Some states chose to celebrate Arbor Day on a different date that coincides better with their growing season, reports the Arbor Day Foundation.
Michigan has 119 communities, including Marquette, Escanaba and Gladstone, and Wisconsin has 117, including Marinette, Oconto and Pound, that were honored by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community.
Tree City USA recognizes communities that are committed to its trees.
More than 135 million Americans live in a Tree City USA community.
The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Neb., resident J. Sterling Morton.
Morton, a civic leader, agriculturist, and former newspaper editor, 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, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in countries around the world.
The state tree of Michigan is the eastern white pine and it was chosen in 1955. It lives an average of 200 years and can live as long as 400 years.
This pine was known to the Haudenosaunee Native Americans as the tree of great peace, and its needles contain five times the amount of calcium than that of a lemon.
Eastern white pines are among the tallest trees east of the Rocky Mountains, and are the state trees of both Michigan and Maine.
The state tree of Wisconsin is sugar maple, or acer saccharum.
The sugar maple is a landscape standout. Medium to dark-green leaves turn yellow, burnt orange or red in fall. It tolerates shade, likes a well-drained, moderately moist, fertile soil. It should not be planted in confined areas or where salt is a problem.
It grows to 60 feet to 75 feet, with a spread of 40 feet to 50 feet.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.
What better way to celebrate Arbor Day than to plant a tree.
Before planting a tree, make sure you know how to do it correctly, advises the International Society of Arboriculture.
How a tree is planted and initially maintained makes all the difference in the world. Too many people are content to simply plant a tree and don't ensure that the tree has the chance to go on to live for many years.
"Planting a tree is making an investment in the future," says Sharon Lilly, International Society of Arboriculture Educational Director. "You must care for and nurture your young tree so that it will pay dividends for years to come."
Tree planting tips
There are a few simple tips to remember when planting your tree this Arbor Day:
Prepare the perfect hole for planting.
- Dig the hole two to three times the width of the root ball. Do not dig deeper than root ball depth. Make the sides of the hole slant gradually outward. - For bareroot trees, neatly cut away any broken or damaged roots. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting to allow them to absorb water.
- Container-grown trees should have the plastic or metal containers completely removed. Carefully cut through any circling roots. Remove the top half of pressed peat/paper containers.
- Balled and burlapped trees should have all of the ropes cut. Pull the burlap at least one third of the way down; slit remaining burlap to encourage root growth. If in a wire basket, cut away the top of the basket.
Plant the tree.
- Gently place the tree in the hole.
- Partially backfill with the soil from the hole.
- Water to settle the soil.
- Finish back-filling the hole.
- Tap the soil gently, but do not step on the root ball.
A few more pointers
While you may have finished planting, Arbor Day aficionados should remember these final touches:
- Remove tags and labels.
- Do not stake unless the tree has a large crown or if the planting is situated on a site where wind or people may push the tree over. Stake for a maximum of one year.
- Prune only the damaged branches.
- Soak the soil well, making sure no air pockets form between roots. Wait until next year to fertilize. - Spread two to three inches of mulch over the planting area, but do not place it up against the trunk.
- Be sure the root ball has plenty of water throughout the year.