Shanon Maglente | 

You Can Get Free Trees From the Government — Here's How

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Trees do way more than just provide shade. They have other benefits, like helping with air quality, conserving water, and supporting wildlife. That's exactly why you can find several tree planting organizations across the country — and most of them will you a free tree or two if you ask.

With Earth Day and Arbor Day coming in April, I dug into exactly how and where you can free trees for your home or plant preservation project. Make sure to also check our our free seeds post if you're looking to save on growing your own garden.

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Where is the best place to get free trees?

Many government offices, both at the state and local level, run programs where they'll offer free trees to residents in hopes for better tree maintenance education and just overall a healthier ecosystem. You can always reach out to them directly to ask or follow the agencies on social media for updates. Your best bet though, is to check around Earth Day or Arbor Day.

The National Wildlife Federation provides native tree seedlings for free to partners who will plant them through local restoration projects or community tree giveaway events. One example is giving students seedlings to plant at home, then having them take care of the tree. Visit the “Request Trees” tab on the National Wildlife Federation’s website to apply for free seedlings.

Where can I get free trees in my state of residence?

A family standing with their new trees they got for free from TreeFolks and the City of Austin, TX

Here is a growing list of where we know you can get free trees.


City Plants, a nonprofit organization run in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and six other nonprofit groups, distributes approximately 20,000 trees a year across LA’s neighborhoods. You can request up to seven trees per household to plant in your yard. Additionally, you can make the ask for a school or request a tree to be planted on the street in front of your home or business. Visit City Plants for details.


From June 1 through Aug. 31, the City of Orlando offers a service where homeowners can request a tree to be installed. Once homeowners fill out an application, a crew member will inspect the site to determine the placement of the tree according to their Right Tree, Right Place policy. Trees will then be planted on the qualifying properties in the winter. The Street Tree Program opens in the summer of 2023 for applications.


Two programs — Groundwork Lawrence's Green Streets and Greening the Gateway Cities — work together to plan thousands of trees around Massachusetts every year. Request a free tree here or call (978) 974-0770 ext. 7016.


In a program similar to New York’s Tree for Tribs, there are 21 counties in Maryland where residents can get “Backyard Buffers” through a joint program between the Maryland Forest Service and the Potomac Watershed Partnership. Homeowners who have a waterway on or adjacent to their property are eligible to receive 20 – 30 free native tree and shrub seedlings. These are intended to create a streamside buffer.

New Jersey

Through a program with the New Jersey Forest Service Nursery in Jackson, every third grader in the state is entitled to one free seedling. The request must be made by a teacher or official class representative. Visit the Parks and Forests department’s website for information.

New York

The Department of Environmental Conservation in New York runs a Tree for Tribs program every year to help reforest the state’s tributaries. Anyone who owns or manages land in New York State with at least 50 feet along a stream or waterbody is eligible to receive a free “buffer in a bag” of seedlings. The program is also open to organizations and individuals with permission to plant trees on a property with water access. Visit the DEC’s website for the application process.


Residents of Portland, Oregon can get free trees for their yard through the city’s Urban Forestry program. Each Portland address is eligible to receive two free trees which must be planted on private property within city limits. Apply on Urban Forestry website to qualify.


Visit Ten Million Trees to request free trees if you're a landowner. Please note that you have to apply months in advance. The 2024 free trees have already been claimed.


The NeighborWoods program is a partnership between the City of Austin Community Tree Preservation Division and the local nonprofit TreeFolks. This organization provides free trees to city residents and Austin Energy electricity customers. Between October and March each year, the TreeFolks NeighborWoods program gives away 5,000 free trees on a first-come, first-served basis during tree adoption events. Check out the upcoming event dates here, as well as who qualifies for a free tree.


Since 2009, the Trees for Neighborhoods program in Seattle has helped local residents plant over 12,300 trees across the city. Participants receive up to four trees per household. Visit the program's website to apply. You can also check out Grit City Trees, which is annual free street program for Tacoma residents.


If you live in Arlington, Virginia, you can get one of 500 free young native trees. The annual Tree Distribution Program is run by the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation, which provides one free tree per residential property. Visit the county’s website for details.

Related: 12 Inexpensive DIY Raised Garden Bed Ideas

Can I get free fruit trees?

In some states, yes. Check your local tree planting organization to make sure. But in California for example, residents can request a free fruit tree to be planted in their gardens through City Plants, a public-private partnership that promotes greener lifestyles and communities by providing free trees. In this case, you'd just apply on the City Plants website and wait for approval on your delivery.

Is Lowe's giving away free trees?

This was a thing in the past, but we don't think it'll return anytime soon. The last time we saw Lowe's give away free trees was Earth Day 2021. The home improvement chain gave away 500,000 tree pine and spruce saplings for shoppers who registered for them in advance. Unfortunately, this offer didn't run up again in 2022 or 2023, so we don't think this will be happening again in 2024.

The only other time we saw Lowe's offer free trees for Earth Day was back in 2011.

Can I get free plants from Home Depot?

I've heard some myths floating around, but you can't get free plants are Home Depot or Lowe's. Even when plants are about to die, neither retailer will give them away for free.

However, you can get BOGO free seed packets around Earth Day at Home Depot. We saw this deal go live in 2023.

As for Lowe's, you'll want to wait for their SpringFest event in late March or early April to find deals like $2 mulch, up to 40% off outdoor and patio, and heavily discounted plants.

How do I get trees through the Arbor Day Foundation?

The Arbor Day Foundation is a privately owned organization, not government-run. However, anyone can get free trees by becoming a member for as little as $10. The donation includes a subscription to the foundation’s monthly newsletter, a guide to planting and caring for trees, discounts in their online tree nursery, plus 10 trees and two flowering bushes as a free gift. (Okay, so technically, you’re paying $1 a tree.) The selection of trees available for you to choose from depends on your local climate. You can also opt to donate trees to a partnered forest.

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