In San Francisco, we really celebrate Earth Day every day of the year with our earth friendly lifestyles. Still, we look forward to Earth Day on April 22 for what has become one of the largest secular holidays in the world, as a way to observe the strides that have been made in recycling, energy-saving technologies, and appreciation of our planet.
Now celebrated in nearly 200 countries and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day as an environment teach-in, modeled after the teach-ins that were taking place on college campuses across the country. His idea of a grassroots demonstration to protest what was happening to our environment took hold. Since then, Earth Day has grown into the worldwide movement we now commemorate.
Don’t forget that Arbor Day is April 24. Often eclipsed by its more glamorous cousin Earth Day, Arbor Day has been around since 1872 in the United States. According to a Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.” But the next best thing would be today. And if urban living prevents you from planting a tree, give a little love to a tree you enjoy on your street: Consider cleaning up the debris that so often collects in sidewalk tree basins.
LOOKING FOR A FEW LEMONS
If you have a patio or yard, smaller trees such as dwarf citrus can be planted in large planters or wine barrels. JustOneTree.org is a campaign to promote planting fruit trees as the most efficient crop for dense cities. This project is part of the nonprofit group Urban Resource Systems, established in 1981 to promote greater urban self-reliance through community action.
The Department of Public Works estimates that there are between 2,000–4,000 lemon trees in the city. JustOneTree.org would like all lemon trees registered so they can work on planting more in deficient areas to reach the self-sufficiency goal. Visit JustOneTree.org to register your new or existing lemon tree.
Choose the best tree: For a tree to have the greatest impact, it needs to be healthy and thriving. A healthy tree begins with the selection of the species best suited for your location. Consider the soil type, if there are obstructions like overhead wires, environmental conditions like high winds or salt air, and what you want your tree to look like when mature.
Planting your tree: When planting a tree in the ground, make sure to consider the size the tree will eventually become. Sidewalks all over the Bay Area are cracked and erupting by expanding water-seeking tree roots, which cause walking hazards and wreak havoc on sewer systems.
Proper care: The right tree also needs the right early care. Basic tree care begins with watering at least 15 gallons per week. To help keep your tree wet during dry seasons you can apply mulch or plant nonwoody ground cover.
Good support: Your tree will also need support while it grows large enough to stand on its own. Arbor stakes connected with cross braces create a frame from which you can support the tree using a loose arbor tie. Keeping the tie loose ensures that your tree will move enough to grow on its own.
Professional care: Fin-ally, you should have your tree inspected and pruned by a qualified professional to ensure that any developing issues are addressed before they become life threatening to the tree. You can locate certified arborists through Friends of the Urban Forest. Or you can become a qualified professional yourself and care for your own tree, giving it the personal attention it truly deserves. Friends of the Urban Forest offers tree-care classes and work days where you can learn cutting-edge pruning techniques and practice your arbor skills while making our urban forest healthier and stronger. For more information on how you can have a healthy tree in front of your home, contact Friends of the Urban Forest at fuf.net.
No time or space for tree planting or care? Just give a tree a hug. This is San Francisco after all!