How to Plant a Tree for Earth Day


Earth Day evolved in 1962 when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson began his struggle to bring environmental issues into the political arena during a time when it was a non-issue. It took many years for environmental issues to make it onto political agendas. Today, Earth Day helps to raise awareness of environmental issues. It also happens around the time of Arbor Day at the end of April. Arbor Day is the celebration of trees, and may be one of the reasons planting a tree is popular on Earth Day. A tree can absorb about 1 ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

Step 1

Choose a tree that is native to the area where you live. Common native trees would be the sugar maple in the Northeast, river birch in the Southeast, red maple in the Midwest, rocky mountain oak in the Southwest or black hawthorn in the Far West. Keep in mind that a native tree will have a better chance of surviving once it is planted, and it will eliminate the risk of invasive pests that can harm other plants.

Step 2

Go to your local food cooperative and ask if they will be handing out any trees for Earth Day. Food cooperatives and health food stores sympathetic to environmental issues often hand out trees to their customers to celebrate.

Step 3

Call any local environmental groups in your area and find out if they are offering any trees or holding any Earth Day events. Groups will often hand out trees to donors near or on Earth Day. Also, there may be a local event you can participate in.

Step 4

Make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation at (see Resources) to support their efforts of planting trees and replanting forests. You will get 10 free trees with your contribution. Select "10 Free Trees: Become a Member," and then enter your ZIP code on the next page. A list of native trees available in your area will appear. Choose the type of trees you would like to have sent to you.

Step 5

Plan how you would like to plant your tree on Earth Day. You may have more than one tree to plant. Invite friends, neighbors or family to participate. This is also a perfect time to teach children about Earth Day and the environment.

Step 6

Choose an area where you would like to grow your tree. The best area would be where other members of the community can enjoy the trees or participate in their care. It will also help to raise awareness about the importance of working together to take care of the Earth's environment. Look for a local park, church grounds or public school grounds where you can plant your tree.

Step 7

Obtain permission to grow your tree in the area you selected. Talk to church or school authorities to get permission to use the grounds, or talk to your city's Park and Recreations Office if you plan to plant your tree in a local park. The authorities you talk to may even have suggestions to assist you in your celebration.

Step 8

Prepare your tree to be planted. It's likely you received your tree as a young plant with bare roots, or with their roots in soil wrapped in burlap or planted in a cup. Soak a bare root seedling's roots in a bucket of water at least two to three hours before planting your tree. If the roots of your tree are in dirt, they are already ready to be planted.

Step 9

Transplant your tree by digging a hole that is two to three inches deeper than the length of the roots on a bare-root seedling. If your tree has soil, remove the burlap or cup with scissors. Fill the hole around the tree two-thirds full. Pour water into the hole. Wait for the water to settle before filling the rest of the hole with dirt.

Step 10

Mix root promoting fertilizer into the soil around the tree. Cover the soil with a layer of mulch.

Things You'll Need

  • Tree seedlings
  • Shovel
  • Root promoting fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Organic Gardening: Regional Guide to Native Trees
  • Family Education: How Does Your Tree Grow
  • EnviroLink: How the First Earth Day Came About

Who Can Help

  • EcoKids: Why Plant a Tree?
  • Arbor Day Foundation: 10 Free Trees
  • Cut CO2: You Can Make A Difference
Keywords: Earth Day, tree planting, environmental

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for over 15 years. Coe is the former publisher of the politics and art magazine Flesh from Ashes. She has worked to protect water and air quality. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University.