If you wish to plant a tree for someone who has died, you desire a good thing. Planting memorial trees for loved ones has become an increasingly popular choice, as they create a living legacy that honors the life and memory of those we’ve lost.
They are also a unique way to have a positive impact on the environment, all while being a tangible representation of the person we loved.
Tribute trees, as they are sometimes called, can also make a meaningful memorial gift, as well.
So today we’re going to take a look at how to plant a tree in memory of someone, as well as reasons to plant a memorial tree, the best tree planting services, memorial tree gifts, and more!
- 5 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree In Memory
- 10 Reasons to Plant a Memorial Tree
- Best Memorial Tree Planting Service
- Memorial Tree Planting FAQs
5 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree In Memory
Here are five beautiful and simple ways to plant memorial trees in memory of someone.
1. Do it Yourself: Plant a Tree Seed or Sapling
There is something therapeutic about work. Starting, concentrating on, and completing a task — especially one with a purpose — is a great way to help work your way through the grieving process. If you stop to think about it, the simple act of planting a tree memorial is a symbolic process as well.
Here is a list of steps for how to plant a tree in memory of someone:
- Choose a tree seed, sapling, or young tree
- Select a location on your property or on public lands
- Wait for the right season (during the dormant season for your tree type)
- Gather tools and supplies (gloves, shovel, stake and rope to support the tree)
- Dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the root ball, and just as deep as the root ball
- Ensure the root ball is “flared” (brush the roots outward and remove excess dirt)
- Plant so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding earth level
- Straighten the tree vertically and fill the hole, packing the soil gently yet firmly
- If you need to stake the tree, use three stakes
- Add mulch around the base of the tree
Another option is to grow a smaller indoor plant, such as a bonsai tree.
2. Share the Love: Offer Tree Keepsakes at the Memorial Service
A small token handed out at the service shows your appreciation for the attendance of friends and family. This simple gesture is often something that will remind each attendee of the departed loved one.
Popular tokens include ideas like a heart shaped pewter pocket charm for a dear sweetheart, a custom engraved memorial bottle opener for the wine connoisseur, or a shamrock charm for those of Irish heritage.
You can also give out something that can be planted, to grow and bloom as a “living memorial” to your loved one. We have tons of suggestions for what to give out at a memorial service. Some of the most popular involve the planting of beautiful trees or flowers.
Here are a few more ideas to check out:
- Blooming Remembrance Bookmarks
- Blooming Seed Bombs
- Eco-Tree Seedlings
- Forget-Me-Not Seed Packets
- Fillable Seed Envelopes
3. Gift a Memorial Tree: Order a Tree Planted Where it’s Needed Most
Trees for a Change is an amazing memorial tree-planting service that will plant native trees in the forests where they are most needed.
These memorial trees are planted in U.S. National Parks and forests in places specifically identified by the Forest Service of North America. The newly planted trees replace ones destroyed by forest fires, diseases, insects, or natural disasters in American forests.
This is a beautiful way to honor your loved one’s memory, and also makes a unique gift to send as a sympathy present.
I spoke with the company’s founder and “Tree Lover-in-Chief,” Kim, and she was keen to mention that “Dedicating a tree as a memorial gift is a thoughtful, lasting and affordable alternative to sympathy flowers. It’s a really caring way to express your sympathy and allow the memory of someone special to live on.”
4. Tree Urns: Plant a Tree with Cremated Ashes
You’ve may have heard of planting ashes to grow a tree. It’s not just a novelty — it’s a real thing! We’ve been offering these on our retail store for nearly a decade with great success.
However, it’s still a new and perhaps strange idea to many, so here is the lowdown on our memorial tree urns.
Tree urns are biodegradable, ceramic-based vessels that hold a small amount of ashes (35 cubic inches, proportionally equivalent of about 35 pounds of pre-cremated body weight).
The urn itself includes a proprietary blend of materials that actually uses the remains to help the tree grow strong and healthy. The lid to the urn has a small hatch for the tree seeds to sprout through. You can choose one of over a dozen varieties that we offer, or you can choose your own seeds.
Complete instructions are included but here is the condensed version:
- Place the cremated remains in the urn
- Prep the seeds (if necessary) according to the package, and
- Plant it!
5. Gifting: Send a Tree to a Loved One
As noted above, after a death many people will give or receive funeral flowers, which look wonderful for a few days or weeks and then whither and die.
You can help avoid this depressing reminder of mortality by giving, instead of flowers, something they can grow: a memorial tree.
Whether this is seeds, saplings, or a potted plant is up to you. Note that this will be something to care for, so you may want to really consider the recipient and everything they’re going through before giving a gift that requires care.
Alternatively, you can have a memorial tree planted in their loved one’s honor in a national forest, and they’ll get a certificate and GPS coordinates. And no guilt over a withering tree or plant.
10 Reasons to Plant a Memorial Tree
New trees are good for the environment. Having a higher number of trees in our state forests means a greater reduction of harmful greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide).
Trees planted in devastated forest areas help restore our national forests. What better way to give back to the local community than by rebuilding the forest?
Trees greatly benefit the local wildlife. Trees serve as a shelter for birds and other small animals, and as a food source for many species.
The tree is a symbol of life and hope. There is something so beautiful about the physical process of planting a tree and watching it grow. Trees have been used as symbols of life and hope almost as long as recorded history.
A tree planted in memory of someone is more than just a symbol; it’s real. There is special meaning in having something living to honor their memory.
As a gift, this is not a trinket that someone will feel obligated to keep. Memorial trees for deceased loved ones provide not only environmental benefit, but are also a practical tribute. Once planted, they belong to the earth more than any one person.
You can send a card or plaque directly to the recipient’s home. They will receive these along with the location of the tree!
Unlike funeral flowers, memorial trees are lasting. One of the reasons people love giving the gift of trees most is that they are lasting. Especially if they are planted in dedicated memorial forests.
Planting a tree in memory is generally more affordable than flowers. Funeral flowers can be extraordinarily expensive. Alternatively, planting a sapling can cost as little as $10-$15.
Planting a tree (or having one planted) is fun! We could list out all of the positive effects, but we might be here all day.
Best Memorial Tree Planting Service: Trees for a Change
Our favorite way to plant a tree for someone who has died is through Trees for a Change.
Now you should know that we are an affiliate of Trees for a Change, which means that we might get a commission (at no cost to you) if you decide to have trees planted through them on our recommendation. That’s how we keep the information you are reading free to you.
But, perhaps more importantly, we had been recommending their trees for nearly two years before they reached out and asked us to join their partnership program.
We recommend them because they’re the real deal. As you read on, you’ll find out for yourself what makes this organization such a great choice.
Trees for a Change is a company with the mission to “provide thoughtful, meaningful gifts that live on to restore fire devastated National Forests.” This means that when you choose their service, they will plant and nurture new trees in honor of the chosen person’s memory.
They will do this in an area where it can do the most good, and they will make sure the tree keeps growing for future generations to enjoy. But what does the recipient actually get? Let’s take a look.
Memorial Tree Gifts
When you have a tree planted in memory of someone, the recipient of the memorial tree gift (usually the family of the deceased) receives a different kind of gift.
Instead of flowers (which wilt and die), food (of which they will get plenty), or useless trinkets, the family gets something of greater value: the comfort of knowing that you care.
Here’s how it works:
- You order a memorial tree gift from Trees for a Change
- They will send a certificate and/or card to you (or the recipient, your choice)
- The tree gets planted in partnership with the Forest Service experts in the area most needed
- Trees for a Change provides photos, maps, and other info regarding the tree online for the recipient to view
- The Forest Service nurtures and maintains the tree, ensuring that it grows into a living tribute in honor of your loved one, all while helping restore the forests to their natural beauty.
This is the certificate and card for the recipient:
So the recipient will receive a card and/or certificate, plus the information regarding where it is planted along with access to photos and maps. The actual tree will be planted in the spring in memory of the person of your choice.
You can get a memorial tree gift with certificate here.
Planting a Tree in a National Forest
Trees for a Change works directly with the U.S. National Forest Service to plant the memory trees.
Since the Forest Service are the experts tasked with caring for our nation’s forests, they are the ones who choose the location and tree species. They are also the ones who actually physically plant the trees.
Because of this, you won’t get to choose exactly where the tree gets planted. And that’s ok, because one of the main ideas behind this gift is to do good in memory of your loved one.
They will make sure that your tree planting does the most good and makes the biggest difference.
Memorial trees, as with most trees, are planted in the spring. Some can be planted in the fall, but spring is most common.
Depending on when you order your memorial tree gift, it may take a while for the next planting season to come around. No matter when you order, it will definitely be planted by the following spring.
They will plant your tree (or grove of trees) in a protected area, designated for restoration. This means that your tree won’t be cut down for logging or pulp. It will grow, live, last, and endure as the forest’s pre-wildfire or pre-natural disaster beauty is restored.
Also, it is important to note that these trees are planted in addition to the ones normally planted by the Forest Service.
In other words, if you didn’t order it, it wouldn’t be planted. Your gift is a poignant way to make a difference.
Living Memorials that Endure
When you plant memorial trees for deceased loved ones, they grow to stand as a “living memorial.”
It’s a way to honor someone by emphasizing life and the simple beauty of nature. It’s also a way to give back to the earth which, by God’s grace, sustains us, as well as a heart-warming act of remembrance.
And it is a memorial that literally lives on.
Your memorial tree will live on in the national forest. Most pine trees live a minimum of 100 years, up to even 1,000 years.
Douglas fir trees can live as long as 700 years, and other species of trees planted in memory in the national forests range from 150 years on up.
This is an enduring legacy, and a wonderful way to combat climate change, aid the environment, and provide food and shelter for animals.
It also reduces flooding and surface runoff, and helps restore devastated forests to their natural beauty.
A very good gift indeed. Choose your memorial tree gift here.
Memorial Tree Planting FAQs
While there is a plethora of good, detailed information listed above, you may still have some questions concerning how to plant a tree in memory of someone.
We’d love to answer as many of them as possible, so let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions.
How much does it cost to plant a tree in memory of someone?
This is often the first question that many ask. We touched briefly on cost in the sections above, but let’s go a little more in depth.
Cost varies between services, but the greatest difference is between forest-planted trees and personal trees.
With forest-planted memorial tree services, you pay a non-profit organization or company to plant one or more trees in honor of your loved one.
While most forest-planted services don’t allow you to pick the type of tree (as it must be native to the forest), some will allow you to pick which forest you would like to have it planted in.
Forest-planted memorial tree services usually range in the $10-$50 range depending on how many trees you would like to plant.
Personal-planted memorial tree services, on the other hand, usually start around the $65 mark.
Cost for personal trees varies based on what type of tree you choose, the container, shipping costs, and additional add-ons like memorial plaques, markers, or benches.
Are tree planting services legitimate?
Yes! There are many wonderful, reputable, and long-established organizations and companies that participate in memorial tree planting.
Many of them, like Trees for a Change, work directly with the National Forest Service and U.S. National Parks service, and are dedicated to rebuilding and nurturing the earth’s forests.
Of course, as with any endeavor, you want to use common sense when picking a memorial tree service.
Organizations that are upfront and transparent about things like where your trees will be planted, where they source their trees, and who they work with usually have nothing to hide. Some will even allow you to visit your tree after it’s planted!
What are common types of memorial trees?
If you wish to go with a personal tree planting service, or wish to plant your own, you may be wondering what the most common types of memorial trees are.
In North America, the most common species of memorial trees are the Red Maple and the White Oak.
A few of the reasons these trees are so popular is for their beauty, size, and lifespan.
Red Maples are renown for their stunning, fiery red fall foliage, and White Oaks are known to live up to 600 years!
Other popular choices include the Blue Spruce, Sargent Cherry, Magnolia, and the Weeping Willow.
It’s important to note planting zone and climate before choosing your tree to ensure it will grow and thrive for many, many years.
Do different trees have different meanings?
Yes! Just like flowers, most trees have some sort of symbolic meaning. Here are 10 of them:
White Oak — peace and calmness
Red Maple — strength and endurance
Magnolia — nobility, perseverance, dignity
Blue Spruce — resilience, strength, and everlasting life
Sargent Cherry — life, death, and renewal
Weeping Willow — grief and mourning
Dogwood — rebirth, resurrection, and purity
Ponderosa Pine — virtue and long life, immortality
Silver Birch — new beginnings and protection
Apple — love, good health, and future happiness
Are trees hard to care for?
It’s a logical question. The main point of a tree memorial is that it’s living, so concern of keeping it alive is understandable.
But the answer is no! Trees are relatively hardy plants (unlike your pansies), and with some basic garden know-how — i.e. watering, a little pruning now and then, a touch of fertilizer, etc. — should thrive and grow.
One of the most important factors to maintaining a healthy memorial tree is obtaining a tree suitable to your climate, and planting it during the correct season.
We hope the information we’ve provided on how to plant a tree in memory of someone will be helpful to you and your loved ones as you consider these beautiful, living memorials.
Read Next: 11 Living Memorials to Honor a Loved One
Daniel has been working in the funeral industry since 2010, speaking directly to grieving families as they made funeral arrangements.
He began researching and publishing funeral articles on this website as part of his role as product and marketing manager at Urns Northwest.
Having written hundreds of articles and growing the site to multiple millions of views per year, Daniel continues to write while providing editorial oversight for US Urns Online’s content team.