Scoring A Free Tree For Your Yard May Be Easier Than You Think

Celebrating Arbor Day by planting a tree in your backyard is an excellent idea to celebrate nature and do a small part to offset the consequences of global warming. Yet, buying a tree every year for the holiday can get expensive. Luckily, scoring a free tree for your yard is easier than you think. All you have to do is check if your city planning office supports local programs to promote afforestation. For instance, the city of Orlando has partnered with Arbor Day to provide residents with an energy-saving canopy or understory tree for free. In a similar vein, LA residents can submit a request for a free shade tree with City Plants, a non-profit organization partnered with the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water. 

Check your state's available programs and apply for a free tree if they're available. Alternatively, if you are in a group or community passionate about planting trees, email to become a National Wildlife Federation partner. The organization usually reimburses native tree seedlings for its partners so they can plant them for free or at a subsidized rate in their community. You can even subscribe to your local hardware store or nursery and keep an eye on their promotions to score free trees on Arbor Day or Earth Day. But if this sounds like a lot of work or there's no government project in place, simply join the Arbor Day Foundation and donate a minimum of $10 to receive 10 trees for your yard.

Why join the Arbor Day Foundation?

Launched in 1977, the Arbor Day Foundation membership program offers members 10 trees for $10. Remember, $10 is the minimum contribution amount; you can donate any amount beyond the threshold. If you're passionate about the environment, there's also an option to donate money monthly. The best part, though? You get to choose the tree you'd like to plant, including flowering, fast-growing Norway spruce, and a mix of trees, and get it delivered to your doorstep. You also get to donate the amount to the foundation or request them to plant 10 trees on your behalf in a place where trees got damaged due to natural circumstances.

Although you'll not receive the trees for free, the minimum donation amount is a small fraction of what you'll have to pay if you buy a tree. Angi estimates a small tree that fits in a 5-gallon container and is 6 feet tall will cost you around $100. Similarly, medium trees requiring 15-gallon containers and reaching up to 10 feet will cost nearly $255. A large tree, up to 20 feet tall and necessitating a 1-cubic yard container, will cost around $2,420. Though the price estimates account for the labor, supplies, and transport, they can dismantle your carefully formulated budget. So, if you observe the last Friday of April (or other days per your state's climate and planting season) as Arbor Day, consider joining the Arbor Day Foundation if you can't snag a free tree from other venues.