By Barbara Kessler

Since the first hippie incurred the nickname “tree hugger,” there remains an inescapable (but not inconvenient) truth at the core of that label: Trees are still one of the best thingstreeplantingcalifornia.jpg you can cultivate if you want to green your particular piece of paradise. They gobble CO2, emit oxygen, provide cooling shade, sustain wildlife, and even your family, if you plant fruit and nut-bearing varieties.

So if you’d like to enhance your tree canopy, but need to first enhance your tree knowledge, turn to the Arbor Day Foundation. This veteran supplier and promoter of trees and shrubs offers more info than ever this year in preparation for Arbor Day on April 25. Begin with an online “tree wizard” that can help you narrow down contenders to those that best fit your needs and planting zone. Type in your zip code, designate the type of soil you’ve got, the shade/sun conditions and what you want from your tree (shade, fruit, color), and the wizard pops out the best options. The foundation also offers a guide for planting the right tree in the right spot.

With Arbor Day just a month away (and spring planting season underway), it’s time to order seedlings to plant at your home, school or church commemoration. Arbor Day seedlings are typically two to three feet tall and can be ordered in a pot or with loose roots. They are affordable, around $8 to $12 for most varieties. You can also get a package of 10 free trees in various combinations with a $15 membership.

If you need help planning a school event, consult the Arbor Day page which is packed with classroom ideas and ways to order materials for a tree celebration, such as e-cards and info for teachers on the Nature Action Collaboration for Children.

Even if you’re disinclined to organize a public event, you can still grab a spade, buy a seedling and dig in to fight global warming. That’s what a recent collaboration of credit union employees, children and urban forest advocates did in San Jose. Prompted by a contest in which the Tech Credit Union asked blog readers to suggest the best way to spend $1,000 — the winner picked planting trees — several TCU volunteers partnered with Our City Forest, a Bay Area non-profit, to plant nine trees at Blackford Elementary School in Willow Glen earlier this month. (A previous planting by the same group endowed Foresthill Elementary School with new trees.)

The tree planting commemorated California Arbor Day, which falls in early March. Many states celebrate Arbor Day concurrently with the national foundation in late April, but some have their own state arbor days. Apparently have a tree day is a poplar idea.