fbpx April 2018: Planting Trees | The Morton Arboretum

April 2018: Planting Trees

With Arbor Day right around the corner on April 27, let’s take this opportunity to discuss planting trees. The benefits of planting trees extend environmentally, economically, and socially.



  • Trees improve air quality by filtering harmful dust and pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur from the air while also releasing oxygen (NC State University).
  • In a tree census, or urban forestry assessment, done by the Morton Arboretum in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, trees of the seven-county Chicago region remove approximately 18,080 tons of carbon from the air each year.  For more information on the census, follow the link here.
  • Trees reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, reducing erosion and pollution in our waterways (NC State University).

  • Trees serve as homes for wildlife, and provide them with other resources that they need (Arbor Day Foundation).



  • Appropriately placed trees can reduce your cooling costs in the summer by shading the south and west sides of your home (Tree Advisory Board).
  • According to “Urban Trees and Forests of the Chicago Region” done by The Morton Arboretum and U.S. Forest Service, the trees of the Chicago region reduce residential energy costs by about 44 million per year. To view the census, follow the link here.
  • Trees have the potential to increase residential and commercial property values by improving the appeal of the local area (Woodland Trust).



  • Trees can separate and define space, providing a sense of privacy, solitude, and security (Tree Advisory Board).
  • Studies have identified a direct correlation between the amount of trees and grass in community common spaces and the use of those common spaces by residents, which leads to more opportunities for informal social interaction and greater relationships between neighbors (Georgia Forestry Commission).


If you are interested in planting a tree, the Sterling Morton Library has resources available that can help you!


Principles and Practices of Planting Trees and Shrubs by Gary W. Watson

Illinois Trees: Selection, Planting and Care by J. Cedric Carter

Arboriculture: Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Vines by Richard Harris

Handbook of Trees and Shrubs by Richmond E. Harrison

Trees in the Winter: Their Study, Planting, Care and Identification by Chester Deacon Jarvis

Fruit Tree Handbook by Ben Pike*

Pirone’s Tree Maintenance by John Hartman, Thomas P. Pirone, Mary Ann Sall, and Mary Ann Sall*


*Access the Library’s e-book collection by entering the number on the back of your Sterling Morton Library card


The Arboretum’s website also provides information and a tutorial on how to plant a tree!


Joy Morton on the Joy Path, 1930
Joy Morton on the Joy Path, 1930. Planning for the Joy Path described at left in his letter of 1924

The Arboretum has a history of planting trees! “The Morton Arboretum was founded in 1922 by Joy Morton (1855-1934).  The inspiration for the Arboretum had its origins in Mr. Morton’s own family tree. His father, J. Sterling Morton (1832–1902), was the founder of Arbor Day. Over the decades, the Arboretum has continued to evolve, while staying true to the Morton family motto, “Plant Trees.”” (The Morton Arboretum). Much of the Arboretum’s history has been preserved and even digitized online on the Arboretum’s repository ACORN. Below are links to images of tree planting that has occured around the arboretum and beyond!


Jean Morton Cudahy and a Large Group of Women Planting a Tree, circa 1940

Joy Morton posed with shovel at Dawes Arboretum American Elm Tree Dedication to his father, November 2, 1927

Arbor Day Tree Planting, circa 1980

Arbor Day, children planting tree, 1995

Even if planting a tree is not a feasible option for you, there are organizations that you can help that are committed to planting trees. Here at The Morton Arboretum, we are dedicated to “collecting and studying trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment.” You can help support the Arboretum here!