Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.
Most of us know that “today” is the next best time to plant a tree (if you didn’t already do so 20 years ago); however, trees are mighty expensive. Whether landscaping, trying to grow fruit trees, or trying to do our bit to reduce the effects of climate change, finding trees for free is quite challenging. However, it’s not impossible.
The best 8 ways to find free and cheap trees for your green thumb intentions are below. Scroll down to see them all!
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- Some Stores Giveaway Trees As Promotions
- Governments And NGOs Give Away Free Trees/Plant Trees
- Other Places To Get Free Trees
- Place To Find Cheap Trees
- Related Questions
- There are numerous ways to get free trees.
- Many stores run giveaways during special events.
- Some government agencies and NGOs donate trees.
- Many cities have tree-planting organizations that you could join.
- You can grow trees and talk to people in your neighborhood to see who has unwanted trees.
- Some places don’t give trees away; however, they sell trees at a reduced cost or give away trees as part of a membership.
Some stores and agencies run promotional giveaways on trees during certain special days and celebrations to capitalize on the interest.
During the annual Arbor Day celebration and the period leading up to Arbor Day, many companies and stores run promotional giveaways of trees or seeds.
The most likely candidates for “tree giveaways” are hardware stores, garden centers, and certain government offices.
Most of these stores advertise their free trees quite well; however, supply is usually limited, so you’ll need to act quickly. Phoning a local nursery, garden center, or hardware shop a month or two in advance is how to stay ahead of the game.
For example, in 2021, Lowe’s gave away 500 000 tree saplings on Earth Day to those who pre-registered.
Governments And NGOs Give Away Free Trees/Plant Trees
Most local governments run tree planting initiatives that support urban forestry. They either sponsor trees for residents to plant, provide discounts on tree purchases, or plant the trees in an area. Several NGOs fulfill the same function.
If you’re an avid tree planter, keen on raising environmental awareness and reforesting areas during tree painting events, get in touch with the National Wildlife Federation for free trees.
You’ll need to apply for the tree(s) and resources, but once approved, you gain some great tools to assist in your planting event.
Many cities/neighborhoods have tree-planting organizations and associations. Once you contact them, they come to your neighborhood and drop off trees for you to plant, or they’ll plant sidewalk trees.
For example, since 2009, the Trees for Neighborhoods program has planted 12 300 trees in Seattle. When you become a member of the organization/participate in their work, you get up to 4 free trees per household and other benefits.
Some state governments have tree planting initiatives and programs. These programs give you trees to plant, plant them in your area, or provide you with coupons to purchase trees at discounted rates.
Tor example, the City of Los Angeles determined to plant 90 000 trees by 2021. Many more cities may follow this trend to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Other Places To Get Free Trees
One of the best options is to personally grow trees. If you’re savvy, you can start collecting seeds from parks, sidewalks, and other public access areas. If you have trees on your property, collecting their seeds and propagating them is also a great option.
Once collected, find out how to grow them, then get to work!
This method is a free, legal, and rewarding way to grow trees.
There are some drawbacks to this method, including:
- It takes time to grow trees. Most trees reach a usable height of roughly 20 years, so it’ll be a long investment.
- Growing trees can often be time and energy-consuming. Watering, fertilizing, transplanting, de-weeding, and other management needs mean that growing a tree is not a simple endeavor.
- The tree might die. While growing seedlings is rewarding, it’s not without risk. Young trees are vulnerable to disease, destruction, and other issues, especially if you’re a novice and don’t have the correct soil/nutrients.
Sometimes getting a tree is as easy as asking your neighbors.
When companies build houses, roads, or parking lots, they usually clear any vegetation in the area before starting. You could ask the land owner/developer for trees and offer to remove them yourself (they might see it as a bonus and not charge you for it).
Another option is to ask a neighbor who is renovating their garden and wants to clear old trees for newer trees for their old trees.
You’ll most likely need to remove and move the tree from the area.
Place To Find Cheap Trees
The Arbor Day Foundation offers a 6-month membership for $10. Once you’re a member, you can get 10 free trees for yourself or as gifts. Where you live determines what types of trees are available to you.
Once you’ve selected the trees, you’ll choose a donation amount.
Unfortunately, the seeds are not free to take, but for a small fee, you’ll have access to various seeds.
An alternative is a seed exchange. Although these are usually a “barter,” you might be limited in what is available for exchange.
“Going green” is a popular byword many government agencies attempt to capitalize on. They set up various tree-planting initiatives to reduce the effects of carbon emissions.
The table below examines some initiatives in several states to give away trees.
|Arizona||Salt River City||Two free trees from Salt River Power|
|Arizona||Phoenix||Trees Matter’s Utility Shade Program|
|California||Glendale||Tree Power Program|
|California||Los Angeles||Department of Environmental and Sanitation plants free trees|
|California||Oakland||Trees for Oakland|
|California||Sacramento||Sacramento Shade Program|
|California||Salinas||Adopt-a tree Program|
|California||San Francisco||Friends of the Urban Forest|
|California||Oxnard||Free fruiting trees to residents|
|Colorado||Denver||The Park People’s Denver Digs Trees Program|
|Hawaii||Honolulu||Hoʻolāʻau Community Tree Planting Project|
|Idaho||Boise and Sand Point||NeighborWoods Program|
|Idaho||Statewide||Idaho Power’s Shade Tree Project|
|Oregon||Portland||2 free trees from the Department of Urban Forestry|
|Oregon||Willamette Valley||Friends of Trees|
|Oregon||Tigard||Free Trees to Beautify your Block|
|Oregon||Lane County||Tree voucher from the Department of Public Works.|
|New Mexico||Albuquerque||NeighborWoods Program|
|Utah||Ogden||Annual Tree event|
|Utah||Provo||Free trees to qualifying residents by Provo City Power|
|Washington||Seattle||Trees for Neighborhoods Program|
|Washington||Spokane||Neighborhood Tree Program|
|Washington||Tacoma||$30 coupon for tree purchasing|
|Washington||Vancouver||Yard Tree Giveaway Program|
If your state does not currently have any tree planting programs, you could take the initiative and start one!
- The first step to starting a tree-planting program is to gain knowledge. Explore the best sites to plant trees and which type of trees you should plant. Knowing which trees to plant includes planting seasons, growing requirements, and other important management information.
The best way to gain the relevant information is to work through the local Native Plant Society, forestry service, a garden center/nursery, or arborist. Part of this planning is to get the necessary permission.
- Once you know what, where, and how, you can put a team together to help you in the planting project. Taking the team into consideration, you can plan how many trees over how long you’ll need to plant.
- Once you’re ready, with your planting force, you can head to the site and begin preparing the area for planting. Preparing the soil is critical to ensure your trees grow.
- When ready to plant the trees, you can approach the National Wildlife Federation, other NGOs, or forestry agencies to look for tree donations.
Another alternative is approaching nurseries, hardware stores, or other companies with your intended tree planting plans to look for funding/sponsorship.
Maybe you don’t want to start a program but would rather join an established tree planting association/organization.
NPOs and NGOs like Trees For Neighborhoods operate in certain states, and becoming a member/participating in their programs provides some benefits, including:
- Free trees (up to 4 per household).
- A watering and mulch bag per tree.
- Plant care training.
- Assistance in permit applications.
- Planning assistance.
Aside from the direct benefits, you also have the benefit of contributing to a worthwhile endeavor by promoting urban forestry.