This past Friday, March 4th, was Arbor Day Tree Planting! We worked with UT Knoxville’s Facilities Services Stormwater Management, Landscape Services Arboriculture, and Recycling to gather over 70 volunteers and plant approximately 1000 trees along the Second Creek Greenway.
But wait – isn’t Arbor Day in April? Or wasn’t there something we did in November? Well, you’re right. Here in Knoxville, TN, USA – we celebrate three: city, state, and national. The City of Knoxville’s Arbor Day falls on the first Friday in November (you can see how we celebrated it this past year here). The State of Tennessee’s Arbor Day falls on the first Friday of March (which we rang in with our Tree Planting!). The one you might be more familiar with is National Arbor Day, which falls on the last Friday of April (this year’s will fall on April 29th).
Arbor Day in the US dates back to 1872 when the first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10th in Nebraska, which had been treeless before the efforts of J. Sterling Morton. The dates might seem arbitrary as they are so widespread through the calendar year, but they reflect the best planting times for the region. Spring may be a popular planting season (March works well for planting saplings in our region, for example), but fall is the best time to plant here in Knoxville. Regardless, the more trees, the merrier. We like to remember this Chinese Proverb when prepping for tree plantings: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The trees we planted this past weekend are an integral part of the greater Second Creek Riparian Restoration Project that is ongoing. The project aims to clear out invasive species along the banks of the creek and replace them with native species that will thrive in the area. The banks of Second Creek have seen a lot of damage thanks to invasive species, whose shallow root systems simply can’t keep up with stormwater erosion. The native species, with their deeper roots, will be more efficient in stabilizing banks and improving water quality in this creek as well as the other streams and rivers in the area. Not to mention the other benefits that these trees will provide by way of air quality, shade, and carbon sequestration.
For more information on Arbor Day Tree Planting, check out TN Today’s article.