Trees are special. They add value to a home and a community.

In Evanston, oak trees have been important since John Evans and Orring-ton Lunt threw their hats in the air and shouted, “This is the place!”

They were looking for a location for Northwestern University, and when they discovered the magnificent grove of majestic oaks growing next to Lake Michigan, they knew this was it. Years later, Orrington Lunt’s daughter, Cornelia, worked to preserve as a park the portion of that grove that grew in front of their home on Judson. These oaks, cherished for their character and their part in Evanston’s history, are now over 200 years old.

Mature trees are a treasure. They create life-giving oxygen, provide shade, cool and freshen the air, trap dust, block noise, improve views and provide a link with future generations. Since 250-year-old trees cannot be bought in a box store, they must be planted now to provide for the future.

When planting a tree, one must do it with care: It means a long-time commitment. To make sure the tree will be an asset rather than a liability, planning before planting is required. It is important to select the right kind of tree and a proper location for its intended purpose. Questions to ask:

whether the tree is intended for shade, decoration, fruit, screening or privacy;

whether it will grow in Evanston;

how tall and wide it will get;

how much cold or heat it can take;

and whether it is it tolerant of, or sensitive to, pollution.

Anyone planting a tree should look up, look down, look all around and try to avoid planting close to doors and windows, walls or walks, underground pipes and drains, telephone and electrical wires. Trees need room for proper development. Cute little blue spruces can grow over 35 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and completely cover a front entrance.

Evanston residents have a large number of native and naturalized trees from which to choose and can find a tree that matches their preferences and the space in which it will be put. Online, the University of Illinois Extension “Selecting Trees for Your Home” article contains much useful information to help select the right tree, plant it carefully and feel the satisfaction of having made a positive contribution to the future of Evanston.

Everyone can take care of newly planted trees, their own and those on adjacent parkways, by making sure they are watered for at least the first two years after planting.

Everyone can help take care of existing trees by calling 311 and leaving a message stating problem and location if they notice street or park trees with broken branches, with leaves covering stop signs, or standing in a layer of wood chips over 4 inches deep.

Everyone can celebrate the past – by planting for the future.