Frequently Asked Questions
When will my trees arrive?
To be sure that your trees arrive in a strong and healthy condition, we ship bare root stock only when it is dormant in the fall and spring seasons. Trees are sent according to your local climate and this year's weather.
Fall Shipping: We have to wait for a couple of hard frosts so the trees go dormant and can be shipped safely. Trees can be planted until the ground is frozen solid. Fall shipments are made between November 1 and December 10.
Spring Shipping: Our trees can be planted during a broad range of weeks or months - from when the frost first leaves the ground through late spring. Spring shipments are made between February 26 and May 30. Please see our shipping schedule.
How are my trees shipped?
Your 10-Free-Tree membership package will ship by USPS bulk rate. All Nursery orders ship USPS Priority or UPS Ground depending on the size/weight of the order. The majority of Nursery orders will travel by USPS Priority. All of our trees can be delivered to a PO Box. If your package is too large to fit, the post office will leave a card in your box indicating the arrival of your trees.
Can I change my shipping address once an order has been placed?
Yes. Please contact Member Services and we will be happy to assist you in making the necessary changes to your order.NOTE: Changes can no longer be made once an order has been sent to our nursery for processing.
Can you ship my trees to ensure they arrive by a specific date?
Yes. If we are shipping trees, we can happily accommodate your request. Standard expedited shipping charges are $7.00 for membership tree packages and an additional $6.00 for nursery orders.
I only received part of my order. Where is the rest?
Paid nursery orders and free membership trees come from separate facilities and arrive at separate times.
Membership trees: Please inspect all orders carefully upon arrival. Our membership trees are one year old seedlings and are about 6 – 12 inches in length. All of your membership trees come in a plastic package and are bundled together with a twist tie. Please remove the twist tie and carefully separate the trees. Each deciduous seedling should look like a stick with some roots at the end.
Nursery stock: Please inspect your order carefully upon arrival. Our nursery trees are 2 year old seedlings. They are packaged in a recyclable cardboard box. Please remove all of the contents from the package upon receipt. Your tree seedlings are all bundled together and secured inside of a clear plastic bag covering the rootball. There should be a twist tie securing the clear plastic package to your seedlings (just above the roots). Please remove the twist tie and remove the trees from the clear plastic bag. You should now be able to see white paper tags on the seedlings indicating the species of tree above the roots. There will be only one paper label per species of tree ordered. Carefully separate all of your trees. You should have also received a small package of papers in a clear plastic package. Please open the package and locate the packing slip (green and white piece of paper). Compare your order with the items listed on this packing slip.NOTE: if you order multiple trees of the same species they are bundled together with another twist tie.
If you are missing any trees from your order please contact Member Services and we will be happy to schedule a free replacement for the missing items.
There is a white mold-like substance on my trees. Is it harmful?
No, this is not harmful. It is typically caused by a build-up of condensation in the packaging that occurs during the shipping process. Although it may smell bad, just gently wipe or rinse it off and proceed with the planting instructions. Once your trees are outside in the sun and fresh air it should dissipate.
What is your guarantee on tree seedlings?
Your trees are guaranteed to arrive in a good, healthy condition or we'll replace them at no charge. Our tree seedlings are shipped as dormant bare root seedlings at a suitable time for planting. This means that they are still in their hibernating state from the winter months. Deciduous trees will generally be delivered leafless with a few swollen buds, while Conifers will have needles. To confirm that the trees are alive, lightly scratch the seedling with your thumb nail. This should reveal a living layer of green tissue...your assurance that the seedlings are alive and ready to be planted.
Each tree and plant is guaranteed to grow, or we'll replace it at half the original price plus shipping and handling.
What is the gel-like substance around the roots of my tree seedlings?
That substance is hydrating gel that ensures that your tree seedlings remain hydrated as they ship from our nursery to you. The substance is a product called terrasorb and is non-toxic. You will want to soak your tree in water for 3-6 hours prior to planting them (these instructions are also in your planting guide that is enclosed with your order). Do NOT soak the trees overnight.
Why can’t you ship certain trees to my state?
Some state Departments of Agriculture place restrictions on what trees can be imported, or they require lengthy inspection times (increasing the shipping time and making it less likely that our trees survive the transition). Some states, such as Arizona, have very strict restrictions on any imported trees. Some restrict only certain species. These restrictions are in place to protect the various crops and trees within that state from disease or pests that have been imported with the plants.To find out what packages are available for your area, simply enter your zip code on our membership page. For more information on the regulations and restrictions, please contact the Department of Agriculture in your state.
What size of hole do I need to dig when I’m planting my trees?
For baby seedlings, you should dig one hole per tree, 2 ½ feet or more apart. Dig each hole as deep as the tree roots are long so that the top-most root is covered by an inch of soil. The roots should lie naturally and be given enough room so that they can easily spread out. If you are transplanting your trees to their permanent location, the hole should be wider than necessary and the soil turned a foot deep in an area of up to five feet in diameter to aid in root growth. Your trees should also be planted much further apart. You can also find more detailed planting instructions here.
Should I fertilize my trees or add other amenities to the soil?
NO! Applying fertilizers or special root stimulants within the first few years can often damage the fine root hairs causing “root burn”. Keep in mind that many commercial potting soils such as Miracle-Gro also contain fertilizers and are not recommended. Organic material such as compost is okay, but not necessary. If your soil contains large amounts of clay or sand you may add plain garden soil or top soil to amend it.
How much should I water my trees?
We recommend a deep watering about once a week depending on your weather conditions. During dry weather, you may need to water more frequently.
Should I mulch my trees?
Yes. After the tree has been planted, place a 2-inch layer of protective mulch around the base (but not touching the trunk). The mulch will help conserve moisture and serve as a physical barrier when mowing to prevent potential damage from mowers and weed trimmers.
Can I plant my trees in pots?
We would prefer that the trees we ship at planting time be planted in the ground according to the instructions that accompany them. Theoretically, trees can be grown in pots, but this is a technique that requires quite a bit of time and effort and we've found that the failure rates for our trees planted in pots is very high.
Tree roots prefer constant moisture levels and steady temperatures in order to grow. Pots can easily freeze solid or become extremely hot (115° F) and dry in direct sunlight. Since trees need to stay dormant during the winter the option of putting them in a window will not work since they need to be kept cold.
I just received my trees. How do I know which tree is which?
Our member trees are swatched with specific colors and shipped with a color key so that you can identify them. Your Identification Key is also available for download. For nursery orders, you should now be able to see white paper tags on the seedlings indicating the species of the tree above the roots.NOTE: when you order multiple trees of the same species they are bundled together with a twist tie.
Can I plant my trees if there is snow on the ground?
Fall shipments are made from November through December after a hard frost has allowed the trees to go dormant. In the fall, trees can be planted until the ground is frozen solid. As long as a spade can be inserted into the ground, it is okay to plant the trees. If it has already snowed, test the soil. If it's too dry or too wet, don't plant. The soil should have enough moisture to crumble in your hand.
When you plant in the fall, be sure to mulch with wood chips, straw or other material to reduce alternate freezing and thawing that can result in "frost heaving". Because the stock we ship is dormant, the colder air temperatures will not harm the trees.
If you cannot plant immediately due to adverse weather conditions, you may store your trees for up to 5 days. If storing your trees for longer than 5 days please follow the instructions for Heeling in Your Trees.
When will my trees leaf out?
Transplanting can be a very stressful process for a tree so it is important to be patient. New growth starts from the roots and bareroot tree seedlings will often take several weeks to produce leaves. Different tree species will also produce leaves at different times throughout the spring season. Some species produce early (ex. Maple) and some later (ex. Northern Catalpa). Scratching the seedling with your thumbnail will reveal a living layer of green tissue –reassurance that your trees are alive.
How do I transplant my seedlings?
After your seedlings have grown for a year or two in their protected spot, transplant them to their permanent location. Transplanting should take place when the trees are dormant…in the fall after their leaves have dropped or in early spring before leaves or new growth appears.
How do I protect my trees from damage due to animals and the elements?
Please be sure to plant your trees in an area where they will be protected from the prevailing winds and receive shade at some point during the day. You also might consider purchasing tree shelters or constructing a small wire cage to protect your young trees from being nibbled on by wildlife. An inexpensive solution is to use a tomato cage and fasten a light colored shade cloth around the entire cage. This will provide ample protection from wildlife as well as some shade from the harsh summer sun.
What if I can't plant my trees right away?
If you cannot plant immediately, you may store your trees for up to 5 days. If storing your trees for longer than 5 days please follow the instructions for Heeling in Your Trees.
Where can I find my member number?
Your member number can be found on your membership card or on the reply form of each Arbor Day Foundation mailing. You can find your member number just above your name and address. It begins with the number 8 and is a total of ten digits with hyphenation for easier reading (Example: 8xx-xxx-xxxx).
Can I select the specific trees I want to receive for my membership?
No. We are not able to substitute or mix and match membership packages. We prepackage our 10 free membership trees in anticipation of the thousands of orders we receive each year. While this prepackaging lets us provide outstanding selection and prices, it also prevents us from making changes to the packages.
I just renewed my membership. Why did I receive another "renewal" notice?
Sometimes, your generous support and a request to renew your membership cross paths in the mail.
Can I reduce the number of mailings I receive?
Yes, and we’d be happy to help. To help us better understand your wishes, please contact us by phone at 888-448-7337; or e-mail at email@example.com. If contacting us via e-mail please provide your full name and address and how we can better correspond with you. Please note that it may take several weeks to reflect the changes, as we process our mail in advance.
Does the Arbor Day Foundation share my information with other organizations?
The Arbor Day Foundation respects your privacy and will never sell, rent, trade, or share your phone number or e-mail address. If you have supplied the foundation with a postal address online or via standard mail, you may receive periodic mailings from us with information about trees, services or upcoming events. In addition, unless you have indicated that we should not share your name, you may also receive mailings from other reputable organizations from time to time. If you do not wish to receive such mailings, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-448-7337. You can also send your request to the Arbor Day Foundation, 211 N 12th Street Lincoln, NE 68508, "Attn: Member Services." Be sure to provide your exact name and address so we can honor your request.
Did I win the free year of coffee? Did I win the free blanket and field guide?
We have sweepstakes available with some of our mailings. Our most common prizes for our sweepstakes are 12 bags of coffee or a free blanket and our What Tree is That field guide. To win these gifts you must be one of the first fifty responders proportionate to the geographical distribution of the offer. If more than one first response is received on the same day from a specific area, a random drawing will be held among all first responses to determine which respondent will be awarded a prize.
The winners will be notified by a letter in the mail once they have won. This process can take a few months to make sure the sweepstakes process is fair.
When is Arbor Day?
National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. Several states also have their own specific Arbor Day scheduled on the calendar to coincide with an ideal time to plant trees there. Please see our directory for reference to your own state.
How can I volunteer?
Whether you like to physically plant trees or help in the office of an environmental nonprofit organization, you can learn more about tree- and conservation-related volunteer opportunities in your local area by simply clicking arbordaynow.org/volunteer.
Can you donate free trees?
While we try to make the trees and other plants we sell available at the lowest possible cost, we do not have the ability to provide them free of charge other than as a benefit of individual membership in the Arbor Day Foundation. You can join the Foundation at arborday.org/join.
What is the Foundations’s federal tax ID number?
The nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization. The Foundation’s Federal Tax ID number (also known as an EIN, Employer Identification Number) is 23-7169265.
Are donations made to the Arbor Day Foundation tax- deductible?
Yes, monetary donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible, however, certain donations in which the donor receives a good or service in return for a donation are not tax-deductible or may be only partially deductible. We recommend that you consult your tax professional for advice.