How to Plant a Tree in Someone's Honor


Drive by any high school and you might see small trees against the backdrop of a big brick building. Take a walk near these trees and you may see a memorial plaque near the base of the trunks. Planting a tree in someone's honor can memorialize an individual who has passed away or to celebrate the life of an important person. The simple act of planting a tree will commemorate the life of both the living and the dead. Trees provide a living reminder of the individual that will last well into the future.

Step 1

Choose a site to plant the tree. This selection should be made before choosing a tree in order to determine the soil conditions, light availability and space available for the new tree.

Step 2

Choose a tree that will grow well in the preferred location. Consult the USDA hardiness zone map to help determine specific cold tolerances for your area. Seek advice about the best plantings for your area. Growers can direct you to the type of trees that require little maintenance, those that can damage home foundations if planted close to houses or easy-to-grow varieties for your climate.

Step 3

Consult a symbolic tree meaning list to help make your decision about the type of commemorative tree that you'd like to plant. Many types of trees have different meanings and this tool can aid you in making a decision for a specific individual.

Step 4

Prepare the soil by turning over an 8- to 10-foot area around the planting site. Dig down about 8 inches into the soil, scoop the dirt out and flip the shovel over. Chop up dirt clumps and proceed turning over the entire planting space. Remember that trees throw out roots in every direction, usually about 12 inches beneath the soil surface. Amending the soil all around the planting site will make the tree healthier and stronger.

Step 5

Add compost or peat moss to the planting site and mix it into the soil with the shovel. The site is ready at this point for planting.

Step 6

Schedule a time when family members or friends can be present for the tree planting. Consider allowing a spouse, child or a special individual dig the first shovel of dirt from the planting hole.

Step 7

Dig the planting hole two times the width and depth of the root ball of the tree. Cut off any twine or metal wires holding the burlap surrounding the root ball of the tree. Loosen the burlap since this will decompose after planting.

Step 8

Place the tree into the hole and determine the correct positioning based on the tips provided with the tree. Follow planting depth instructions carefully to avoid causing damage to the trunk.

Step 9

Fill in around the tree and compact the soil firmly by stepping down with your feet. Continue adding more dirt around the root ball until it's entirely covered. Firm one more time and water the tree deeply near the soil at the trunk base.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade Shovel
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Pruning clippers
  • Mulch


  • Texas Forest Service

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • List of symbolic tree meanings
Keywords: memorial trees, tree planting, trees

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.