How to Plant a Tree As a Memory of a Loved One

Updated April 17, 2017

Planting a tree in memory of a loved one not only memorialises the person, but also serves the earth. Planting the tree with fellow mourners can be a bonding experience, and the tree serves as a living memorial that you can visit easily in the privacy of your own yard.

Learn what species of trees will grow in your climate, and visit neighbours to learn what trees thrive in their yards.

Choose a tree that is an appropriate memorial for your loved one. Plant your loved one's favourite tree, or choose a tree that draws on a memory.

Consider what each type of tree symbolises. For instance, ash trees are fitting for someone who gave his life for another, as they symbolise sacrifice. Apple trees symbolise youth and happiness, fitting for someone who died young. Perhaps the most fitting for all are cherry trees, which symbolise death and rebirth.

Plant your tree in the spring or fall, when temperatures are moderate, and there is plenty of rain--unless you are planting a palm tree, which should go in the ground in the heat of summer.

Choose a spot in your yard that gets adequate sunlight and rainfall to stimulate growth.

Dig a shallow hole with your shovel that is wide enough to accommodate the roots. The hole should be just deep enough for the tree roots to fit beneath the soil once you fill the hole after planting--any deeper and they will not get enough oxygen.

Set the tree in the hole, holding the root ball--not the trunk--to avoid damaging the tree. Step back and view the tree from all angles to ensure it is straight.

Gently refill the hole around the root ball with soil. Simultaneously cut away the wrapping if the root ball is wrapped and add water to settle the soil. At the end, the trunk flare--the base of the tree where the roots separate from the trunk and spread--should be partially visible. Remove some of the top soil for visibility if necessary.

Engrave a plaque or set a stone next to the tree to dedicate it to your loved one. This will serve as a memorial you can visit often in the comfort and convenience of your own yard.

If you feel comfortable, invite close relatives or friends for a dedication service. Share memories of your loved one and toast to his memory.

If you wish, tie ribbons to the tree limbs with your signature or a short message for your loved one.


If you cannot or choose not to plant a tree in your own yard, donate a tree to a park or make a donation to a national forest. If you live in an apartment with no yard for a tree, consider planting a small indoor plant such as the jade plant, also known as the friendship tree, which is remarkably easy to care for and can thrive for years.


If you move, the next house owners may not take care of your tree, and they may even remove it.

Things You'll Need

  • Young tree
  • Shovel
  • Gardening scissors
  • Stone or engraved plaque
  • Ribbons (optional)
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