As a nursery, it’s no secret that we’re head over heels for trees. Even though for us every day is Arbor Day, we still break out the gloves and shovels to celebrate this tree-mendous holiday.

Arbor Day is a holiday that celebrates the importance of trees and encourages people to plant and care for them. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the history of Arbor Day, the significance of trees, and we’ll share some tips for planting trees and different ways you can celebrate.


In the mid-to-late 1800s, pioneers settled in the Nebraska Territory and felt something was missing. Trees were scarce, which meant limited resources for building materials and fuel. A newspaper editor from Nebraska City, J. Sterling Morton, had a passion for trees and often advocated for them with local civic groups. In 1872, Morton attended a State Board of Agriculture meeting and proposed the first tree-planting holiday, Arbor Day. He promoted the value of trees to the state’s economy and the environment. He got his wish!

The first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872. To encourage participation, prizes were awarded to counties and people for the largest number of trees planted properly that day. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “It was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.”

After the inaugural year, the holiday quickly gained popularity, and by 1885, Arbor Day was recognized as a legal holiday in Nebraska. Other states soon followed suit, and Arbor Day became a national holiday in the United States in 1970. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated in more than 40 countries, each with its unique traditions and celebrations.

(Pictured above: Fall Fiesta Maple:


Trees play a vital role in our environment and our lives. Here are a few significant ways that trees contribute to the health and survival of our eco-system:

  • They help provide oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis.
  • They clean the air of carbon dioxide. In fact, in Chicago, trees remove more than 18,000 tons of air pollution each year (U.S. Department of Agriculture).
  • Trees provide over 180 million Americans with clean drinking water as it passes through forested watersheds.
  • Trees prevent soil erosion and provide windbreaks for farmland.
  • They provide habitats for wildlife: birds, mammals, insects, you name it! Trees are home to thousands of types of creatures.
  • Trees also provide shade, reducing the need for air conditioning in the summer, and they can help reduce energy costs in the winter by blocking cold winds.

Arbor Day is an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together to celebrate and promote the planting of trees. By planting trees we can improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help combat climate change. Trees can also beautify our communities, creating more inviting and attractive public spaces.


Planting a tree may seem simple, but it’s important to plant it correctly to ensure the tree thrives and provides the expected benefits. Here are some tips for planting trees:

  1. Choose the right tree: Select a tree suitable for your climate and the space where it will be planted. Consider factors such as soil type, sun exposure, and available space.
  2. Plant at the right time: The best time to plant a tree depends on the tree type and your location. In general, trees should be planted in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler and rainfall is more abundant.
  3. Prepare the site: Dig a hole two to three times wider than the tree’s root ball. Remove any grass or weeds from the area around the hole.
  4. Plant the tree: Place the tree in the hole and make sure it’s level. Backfill the hole with soil and pack it down firmly. Water the tree thoroughly after planting.
  5. Mulch the tree: Add a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to help retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing. Mulch stabilizes the ground moisture and the soil temperature.
  6. Care for the tree: Water the tree regularly, especially during the first few years after planting. Prune the tree as needed to remove dead or damaged branches. Protect the tree from pests and diseases.

A well-located shade tree can help save on energy costs and add value to your property. If you’re looking to add the perfect tree to your yard, our nursery is full of hardy stock to choose from. Click here to see what’s growing: If you need help deciding the perfect fit, we’re here to help!


We understand that not everyone can plant a tree to celebrate. There are lots of other ways to get involved- and the environment will still thank you. Here are some activities that you could partake in this Arbor Day:

  • Visit a local arboretum, botanical garden, etc.
  • Get outside and enjoy nature, take a walk on a trail, or spend some time at a state or national park.
  • Host a cleanup of a local park, road, or sidewalk.
  • Volunteer for local environmental organizations. Arbor Day Foundation has great resources for anyone wishing to volunteer their time to help the environment:
  • Donate to local or national organizations that plant trees. There is a great list of charities and projects on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website:
  • Spread the word! Share your love for trees with your friends and family, sharing on social media to join in the worldwide conversation.

Arbor Day is a celebration of the value and importance of trees. By planting trees, we can improve our environment, promote sustainability, and enhance the beauty of our communities. If you’d like to learn more about gardening and get landscape tips, check out our blog. From everyone here at McKay, have a HAPPY ARBOR DAY!