On a recent drive between Milwaukee and Chicago, I passed a number of eerie subdivisions where all the houses and garages blended together in treeless monotony. The urban sprawl of Chicagoland has turned many green scenes into stark enclaves of concrete shopping centers and tree-free townhomes. How do we prevent this de-greening? By planting trees of course! Whether you live in suburbia, rural America, or the heart of a big city, you can help reverse the treeless trend and even get free trees to plant for Arbor Day – or any other day!
Where do I get free trees to plant for Arbor Day?
1. Briggs and Stratton Yardsmarts
Promotion code is BSFTO
Unlike some of the offers that follow, you can get free trees here – no strings. To help celebrate Arbor Day, you’ll receive your choice of a free spruce tree or a free oak tree simply for filling out the form and providing your shipping address and your email. While you may receive some spam, it’s worth getting a free tree to plant for Arbor Day, right? This particular offer may not last forever, though, because it’s considered a promotion. The other sites profiled below are more permanent in their free tree deals.
2. National Arbor Day Foundation
You can join the National Arbor Day Foundation with a donation of $10, and you’ll get free trees and a planting guidebook, all without shipping charges. Although it’s not entirely “free,” ten trees shipped to your home for only $10 is quite a deal, and you have the added benefit of donating to a well-established organization and becoming part of their friendly activist community. By providing them with your zip code, they’ll even identify the hardiest, most appropriate trees for your area. The free trees are “guaranteed to grow” and will be replaced by NADF if you have any coniferous casualties. What kinds of free trees are available to plant for Arbor Day? You can get free trees that flower (dogwoods, crabapples, hawthorns), free oak trees (red, willow, bur), or even free Colorado blue spruce trees. How temperate your climate is will affect which free trees the NADF sends you. And if you prefer to donate your lot of free trees to a local organization like a church or school, NADF is happy to oblige.
3. Free Trees and Plants
Like the National Arbor Day Foundation, this organization allows you to get free trees – with a worthwhile catch. The trees themselves are “free,” but the project needs to support its workers and pay for shipping costs so they need you to contribute a few bucks. Free Trees and Plants (or FTP, as they call themselves) employs persons with disabilities and rescues plants from destruction. The free trees available here actually come from growers who are overstocked. Because the plants are unsold, they are trashed unless someone rescues them and finds homes for them. It’s almost like plant adoption – something I’d never heard of until I found this website. Cheryl Richter is the coordinator of the project, and she claims to employ disabled people at “workshops” where the trees are cared for and prepared for shipping. Details on that aspect of the project are slim. It’s clearly a tight budget operation, but it seems like an honest venture. The free trees include: pin oak, Austrian pine, red maple, thornless honey locust, and even ginkgo.
4. Check with your city.
Many cities offer free workshops after which they’ll give you a free tree to plant in your yard because it has a positive aesthetic effect and even energy-saving potential down the road. The City of Los Angeles offers one such shade tree program, hoping to turn around its reputation for being an ungreen city of smog. Other cities that offer free tree programs include San Diego and Columbia (MO). Often, these tree giveaways are not well-promoted online, but a few phone calls to your alderman or to a city hotline can direct you to the right department.
If you want to plant a tree but are concerned about caring for a young sprout, you’ll find plenty of resources to help. Guides are available at www.tree-planting.com, www.treeplantingguide.com, and www.backyardgardener.com. For very little money and very little time, you can create an Arbor Day to remember in the confines of your backyard or in the center of your community. It’s easy – just plant a tree and watch it grow.