Plant a Tree

Want to Leave a Legacy? Plant a Tree!

You can do something lasting to celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day this week – go out and plant a tree!

Plant a Tree

I’ve been thinking about the beauty of nature this week. In particular, I’ve been thinking about trees, and how amazing they are.

Even in the middle of a crowded city, trees provide food and homes for a myriad of different creatures. I sometimes watch all the birds and squirrels and insects that flit about the trees in our backyard and am amazed by all the activity.

Trees are vital to us, as well. They clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and particulate matter, and they release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. I love this graphic from social media. The picture on the left is a lung, and on the right is a tree. We breathe in what they give out, and they breathe in what we give out. Isn’t that awesome?

Okay, so trees are cool. But we’re getting old! Will it matter if we plant a tree we may not see grow to maturity?

In a word, yes! Every time you plant a tree, you leave a legacy for those who come after you. And you’re providing homes for wildlife and adding natural beauty to the area you plant it in.

We have enjoyed visiting the Biltmore house and estate in Asheville, North Carolina multiple times. While the house is impressive (it’s the largest private home in the America), what is really incredible to me are the grounds around it. When George Vanderbilt started construction in 1889, much of the surrounding 125,000 acres had been cleared for forming and forestry. There are pictures in the house that show the hills and mountains stripped bare. Vanderbilt hired Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York’s Central Park, to plan and manage the installation of the gardens and reforestation of the land. Today, just over one hundred years later, the area is filled with massive trees they planted. Walking through the grounds is like walking through a beautiful forest wonderland. Millions of people have been able to enjoy the legacy left by Vanderbilt and Olmsted.

When you plant a tree, it doesn’t take as long as you might imagine for it to grow.

Many common trees will grow 3-6 feet per year. The Lombardy Poplar can grow 8-10 feet in a year, and reach as high as 30 or 40 feet in only three years. We live in a new development where the builder planted small trees in the yard of each house. The first year we lived here, the cypress in our back yard was only about 4 feet tall. It was so small and scrawny, Bob put a few ornaments on it at Christmas and called it his “Charlie Brown tree.” Less than three years later, here it is, approximately 15 feet high, and thriving. Some varieties of the cypress can grow to as high as 100-120 feet, although chances are we won’t live to see that much growth with ours!

Check out the Arbor Day Foundation and other sources for free trees.

You will need to plan ahead for next year, but there are many sources that give away free trees for Arbor Day each year. If you make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation, they will send you ten free trees. You can select the varieties you want to receive from four different options.

A quick online search revealed both of the major utility companies in our area had a free tree giveaway in connection with Arbor Day. In addition, many cities and towns offer free trees to their residents at various times throughout the year. You can also check your local extension office, department of agriculture, or university.

Someone once said that the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best time to plant a tree is now. 

I like that quote, but I like this one even better: “Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit.” I think that’s good motivation to go out and plant a tree for posterity.

And while you’re waiting for it to grow, check out these record-holding trees from around the world.

Have you ever planted a tree? What kind of tree was it and what made you choose it? Tell us your tree stories in the comments!

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