Garden Update: Arbor Day and Spring 2022

By Kathleen Cue, Nebraska Extension Horticulture Educator in Dodge County (Week of April 25, 2022)

That the idea for a National Day of Recognition for trees came from a prairie state speaks to the importance of trees and spring tree planting.

Not just lovely to look at, trees provide benefits:  Roots to hold the soil, fruit and nesting places for wildlife, shade for our homes (reducing cooling costs by 25-30%!), shelterbelts to serve as buffers against the wind, and the presence of trees reduces crime and vandalism. Here are some other facts, both well-known and little-known, about trees:

No other landscape plant adds to property values like trees do—not turfgrass, not bushes, and not flowers—on average a 10-20% increase in property values.

Trees increase water quality. Not only do roots soak up rainfall that would normally run off, but the tree canopy itself intercepts water droplets, slowing their speed to reduce soil compaction.

Streets lined with trees welcome families, visitors, and people looking to re-locate. Trees provide that all-important sense of place for neighborhoods and communities.

Ecotourism is a thing. People passing through and intentional visitors want to visit awesome trees. Chambers of Commerce and other promotional organizations have compiled lists of notable trees in their area and post this information to their social media pages.

Trees are the lungs of the earth. 100 healthy trees can remove 37 tons of CO2 per year.

Indigenous people deliberately arched or kinked deformities into trees to serve as markers, pointing out the direction to travel. A few of these sentinel trees are still living.

Trees make us smarter. Green spaces provide a moment of rest for our brains, helping us to renew our thought processes and learn more effectively. Schools and childcare centers are developing outdoor classrooms to include trees.

During the Dust Bowl, 220 million trees were planted in shelterbelts.

Retail businesses with street trees see an increase in sales revenue over their no-trees counterparts.

Patients who can see a tree from their window convalesce 1 day faster than those patients who cannot.

People are looking to connect with plants in their outdoor spaces—landscapes, not land scrapes.

Trees talk to one another via the fungal internet. Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial root infections that connect trees to one another and provide a framework for sharing resources.

So, this spring I have just one question for you, if you’re not planting a tree, why not?