The Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services in America

The best memorial tree-planting businesses and organizations can help honor a loved one with a living memorial.

Best Overall

Arbor Day Foundation

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Runner-Up

The Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services Option Seeds of Life

Seeds of Life

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Best for Keepsakes

The Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services Option The Comfort Company

The Comfort Company

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A living tree memorial is a touching way to honor a loved one who has passed away. The tree can serve as a tranquil place to remember a loved one or a site to scatter their ashes. While one can purchase and plant a tree from a local garden center, a better option is to use a memorial tree-planting service. Through these specialty services, family and friends can choose to donate a tree in their loved one’s memory to a national forest, or they can purchase a tree to plant on their property. In addition to the tree itself, these services also provide sympathy cards, certificates, decorative packaging, and keepsakes to accompany the memorial tree. Ahead, find out more about some of the country’s best memorial tree-planting services.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Arbor Day Foundation
  2. RUNNER-UP: Seeds of Life
  3. BEST FOR KEEPSAKES: The Comfort Company
  4. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Trees for a Change
  5. ALSO CONSIDER: The Trees Remember
The Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Memorial Tree-Planting Service for You

When deciding on a memorial tree-planting service, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind, including whether the service sells trees or donates them to a national forest, as well as cost and planting location. Ahead, find out what to look for when searching for the best tree to plant for a memorial.

Forest-Planted vs. Personal Trees

There are two types of memorial tree-planting services: those that offer forest-planted trees and those that sell personal trees. With a forest-planted memorial tree, the customer pays a nonprofit organization or a company to plant one or more trees in a section of a national forest undergoing revitalization following a forest fire or other natural disaster. While the customer does not get to pick the type of tree, they can often choose the forest. (The trees that are planted have to be native to the forest.) Some organizations allow customers to plant just one tree, while others allow or encourage donating multiple trees. Services that offer forest-planted memorial trees keep a record of the tree’s location in a directory and provide customers with detailed directions so they can visit the tree. This service also includes a certificate with the number of trees in the donation and a sympathy card, which are sent to the recipient.

Some tree-planting services ship memorial trees directly to the recipient. Unlike forest-planted contributions, the customer can choose the type of tree they want. They’re also responsible for planting and caring for the tree. Personal trees often come in decorative packaging or planters accompanied by personalized keepsakes and sympathy cards.

Cost

It’s wise for customers to consider the cost of planting a tree when they want to plant a tree for the deceased. Forest-planted memorial trees are the most affordable option and range from $10 to $40, depending on the number of trees donated. Personal trees are more expensive, costing $65 or more. Other factors that can affect the cost of the service include shipping, type of tree, and the addition of keepsakes or other add-ons, such as benches or engraved stones.

Occasions Honored

Memorial trees are most often purchased to commemorate a deceased loved one or pet; however, there are other occasions one can mark with a tree, including an anniversary, wedding, or birth of a child. While the type of commemoration won’t affect the type of tree or cost of the service, it will affect the type of certificate the customer receives. With this in mind, customers will want to consider what occasion they want to commemorate and choose a tree that matches the event.

Planting Location Selection

Customers who want a memorial tree service that offers forest-planted trees may want to consider the tree’s location when selecting the provider. While most memorial tree-planting services that donate trees to national parks allow their customers to choose the park, some have a broader selection of options than others. If the customer plans to visit the tree often, they will want to select a service that offers a location option near their home. That service should also provide detailed directions so the customer can visit the tree. Customers will also want to keep in mind that they won’t be able to choose the tree species when using a tree service that specializes in forest-planted trees. This is because it’s important to plant trees native to the forest so as not to disrupt the local ecosystem.

Our Top Picks

Below is a list of the best memorial tree-planting services in the country. It includes both services that donate trees to national forests and those that package and ship memorial trees directly to the recipient.

Best Overall

Arbor Day Foundation

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  • Forest-planted vs. personal trees: Forest-planted, personal
  • Cost: $2 for 1 tree; 5 tree minimum
  • Occasions honored: Memory, pet memory, celebration
  • Planting location selection: Yes

Pros

  • Relatively affordable prices
  • Wide variety of trees available for purchase
  • Tax-deductible forest-planted trees
  • Printed or downloadable certificates available

Cons

  • Relatively limited forest-planting locations

Why It Made the Cut: The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the country’s pre-eminent tree-planting organizations. The nonprofit makes it easy to donate a memorial tree to a national forest or plant one in the backyard. With a web-based ordering service that allows customers to personalize a sympathy card and choose the forest where they’d like to plant the tree, the Arbor Day Foundation offers one of the best forest-planted memorial tree-planting services. Each tree costs $2, and there’s a minimum of five per order, so for just $20 the Arbor Day Foundation will plant 10 memorial trees in a national forest damaged by wildfires and other natural disasters. All donations come with a customizable certificate that the customer can print or download. And since the Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all purchases are tax deductible. Customers will want to keep in mind that they only get to choose from a few national forests, and these locations vary based on need at the time of donation. If customers would rather purchase and plant their own memorial tree, they can also buy one from the Arbor Day Foundation website at a relatively affordable cost. The organization offers a wide variety of species, from fast-growing American elder to flowering Yoshino cherry.

Runner-Up

Seeds of Life

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  • Forest-planted vs. personal trees: Personal
  • Cost: $63 to $119
  • Occasions honored: Memory, pet memory, celebration
  • Planting location selection: N/A

Pros

  • Wide selection of tree varieties
  • Detailed care information provided
  • Personalized, engraved tree tags available

Cons

  • Prices can be relatively high
  • Certain states subject to restricted shipping

Why It Made the Cut: With its potted trees and engraved memorial tags, Seeds of Life offers a highly personalized service for those looking to plant a memorial tree at home. Seeds of Life, which focuses exclusively on tree gifts and memorial trees, stands out with the personalized products it offers. Customers can order memorial trees on the site and send them directly to loved ones. Seeds of Life offers a variety of species, ranging from memorial dogwood to magnolia and oak trees. Each sapling comes in an attractive pot and includes a free personalized sympathy card. Customers can also choose to add an engraved tag or cross for an additional fee. Customers will want to note that Seeds of Life may not be able to ship to their state due to laws restricting the transport of some trees. Seeds of Life includes the recommended hardiness zones for each tree along with detailed care instructions to ensure it survives the replanting process. While Seeds of Life offers a more personalized service, it is one of the costlier options on the market, with trees starting at $63 and ranging to $119.

Best for Keepsakes

The Comfort Company

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  • Forest-planted vs. personal trees: Personal
  • Cost: $64.99
  • Occasions honored: Memory
  • Planting location selection: N/A

Pros

  • Wide range of memorial keepsakes and gifts ready for personalization
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Attentive and individualized service during and after order

Cons

  • Somewhat limited tree and plant selection

Why It Made the Cut: The Comfort Company offers engraved stones, benches, markers, and other items designed to commemorate a loved one, in addition to beautiful trees and plants.  Why It Made the Cut: The Comfort Company offers engraved stones, benches, markers, and other items designed to commemorate a loved one, in addition to beautiful trees and plants. With its broad collection of gifts for grieving loved ones, The Comfort Company is an excellent option for those who want to pair their memorial tree with other keepsakes. Each of The Comfort Company’s trees measures 8 to 14 inches tall, comes tied with a bow, and is nestled in tissue paper in a white decorative shipping box. The Comfort Company’s selection of trees covers just a handful of tree types popular for memorial trees, including dogwood, Japanese maple, northern red oak, and blue spruce. Accompanying the tree are detailed instructions for planting and care, helping to ensure the tree survives its replanting. Customers can pair their tree with other gifts, including personalized benches, engraved stones and markers, art poles, and other items designed to memorialize a loved one. The Comfort Company also offers a 30-day return policy, which is rare for a memorial tree service.

Best Bang for the Buck

Trees for a Change

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  • Forest-planted vs. personal trees: Forest-planted
  • Cost: $38 per tree; $78 for a grove
  • Occasions honored: Memory, pet memory, celebration, businesses
  • Planting location selection: No

Pros

  • Relatively affordable costs for additional trees and groves
  • Custom groves for friends and family available
  • Framed certificates available

Cons

  • No choice of planting location

Why It Made the Cut: Trees for a Change offers an affordable service and the ability for groups to purchase a grove of trees to revitalize an area of a national forest. Trees for a Change is a great option for family and friends who want to pool their resources to plant a single memorial tree or even a small forest of trees to memorialize their loved ones. In addition to donating individual trees, which cost $38, groups can go in together to purchase an entire grove of five trees for just $78 or even a small forest of up to 100 trees. Trees for a Change includes a framed certificate and customer sympathy card with each memorial tree purchase. Though the recipient cannot choose the planting location, they receive a photo of the tree and information regarding its location, including driving directions. In addition to memorial trees, Trees for a Change also offers commemorative trees for pets that have passed, and trees for various celebrations including weddings and anniversaries.

Also Consider

The Trees Remember

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  • Forest-planted vs. personal trees: Forest-planted
  • Cost: $27
  • Occasions honored: Memory, pet memory, celebrations, holidays
  • Planting location selection: Yes

Pros

  • 11 planting locations nationwide
  • Trees commemorating holidays available
  • Multiple certificate designs available

Cons

  • Somewhat user-unfriendly checkout process

Why It Made the Cut: With 11 planting locations nationwide, The Trees Remember helps revitalize forests across the nation with its memorial tree-planting services. Many memorial tree services that provide forest-planted trees only offer a few national forest options, which can make it difficult for families to find a location that’s close enough to visit. The Trees Remember is an exception. The memorial tree-planting service partners with nonprofit conservation groups to offer 11 planting locations in forests nationwide. In addition to its broad range of locations, The Trees Remember also provides a wide variety of sympathy-card designs for customers. These designs are higher-end than those offered by other services with embossed panels and metal tree charms. The service will even make custom cards upon request. While The Trees Remember offers more location and card options than other tree-donation services, customers will want to be aware that the service’s checkout process can be slow and confusing. It’s wise to take a few extra moments to ensure the order is correct before checking out.

Our Verdict

With its easy-to-use online ordering system, affordable prices, and a solid reputation built on 50 years of service, the Arbor Day Foundation is the best option for those looking to donate a memorial tree. Those who want to purchase a tree to memorialize their loved one will want to consider Seeds of Life, which offers a wide selection of trees, specialized packaging, and detailed tree care information.

How We Chose the Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services

We considered several factors when selecting the top memorial tree-planting services for our list, including reputation, ease of ordering, presentation, and cost. Since donation services require trust from the customer, we looked for reputable organizations that offer transparency through pictures of the planted tree and detailed directions to its location. For memorial tree- planting companies, we chose those with a wide selection of trees to suit most customers’ preferences. We favored services that provide extras, such as decorative packaging, keepsakes, and personalization. Finally, we selected services that are reasonably priced for what they offer.

Before You Use One of the Best Memorial Tree-Planting Services for You

There are a few things to consider when selecting a memorial tree-planting service. For those purchasing a tree they plan to plant at home or send to a loved one, it’s wise to pay attention to the tree’s preferred hardiness zones to ensure the tree thrives and survives once in the ground. Most companies selling trees will clearly list the ideal zones for each tree they offer.

For those who plan on using a service that plants trees in national forests and want to visit the tree, they’ll want to ask if they’ll receive a photo of the tree and directions to its location. Reputable memorial tree-donation services will keep a detailed registry of its trees. For those who plan on scattering ashes at the tree’s location, it’s important to check state regulations, as this practice may not be allowed everywhere.

Cost of Using the Best Memorial Tree-Planting Service for You

Memorial tree-planting services vary in price. Services that plant trees in national forests are more affordable than those that ship memorial trees for planting on private property. Nonprofit organizations offer some of the most affordable options starting at around $10 for five trees. Some donation-based memorial tree organizations are pricier but include more with the package, like custom-designed sympathy cards.

Tree-planting services that ship trees to the recipient are generally more expensive. Prices to buy a tree from some memorial tree-planting services start at around $60 for an individual tree. While trees purchased from these services are more expensive, they also come with features not found with forest-planted memorial trees, including decorative planters and shipping containers, more elaborate sympathy cards and certificates, and keepsakes.

The Advantages of Using the Best Memorial Tree-Planting Service for You

When deciding between purchasing a memorial tree or donating one to a national forest, customers will want to consider the type of service they’re looking for and how they want the tree to symbolize the person it’s memorializing. A tree donation helps revitalize a forest damaged by wildfires, pests, or other disasters. A donated tree also creates a place loved ones can visit to remember the deceased. Tree donations also don’t require one to plant the tree themselves, and donating a tree is more affordable than purchasing a tree.

By purchasing a personal tree, customers can choose to plant it on their property or give it as a gift. They also get to choose the type of tree, and many come in special decorative packaging or planters that add to their appeal. Customers can also choose to add keepsakes, such as an engrave stone or bench, with a personal tree.

Pros of donating a memorial tree:

  • Helps revitalize national parks damaged by disease, pests, and wildfires
  • Doesn’t require one to plant and care for the tree
  • Costs less than purchasing a tree

Pros of buying a memorial tree:

  • Allows recipients to easily access the tree
  • Allows customers to choose the type of tree
  • Comes in thoughtful, decorative packaging
  • Includes the option to add keepsakes to the purchase

FAQs

Wondering whether memorial trees are popular or how the process of purchasing or donating one works? Read on for answers.

Q. How much does it cost to plant a tree in someone’s memory?

The cost of a memorial tree-planting service depends on whether you’re planning to purchase a tree for the recipient or donate a tree to a national park in honor of someone. Donating a tree is more affordable, often starting around $10. Purchasing a tree ranges between $63 and $119 depending on the type of tree and whether you choose to add keepsakes to the package.

Q. How common are memorial trees?

Memorial trees are fairly common. Many people purchase trees to memorialize a loved one as an alternative or addition to a traditional burial or cremation.

Q. Are tree-planting charities legit?

Most tree-planting charities are legitimate; however, you’ll want to research the company to ensure everything is aboveboard. You can choose organizations that offer transparency by telling you where they plan to plant the tree and providing photos of the tree. If possible, you can choose an organization that allows you to visit the tree. It’s also important to determine if the organization returns to care for the sapling after planting it.

Q. Are memorial trees legit?

Yes, memorial trees are a touching way to pay tribute to the passing of a family member, friend, or even a pet.

Q. What are good memorial trees?

What type of tree should you plant in memory of someone? In North America, the red maple and white oak are the most popular memorial trees; however, blue spruce, Sargent cherry tree, and weeping willow are among other popular options. For those planting a tree at home, it’s important to consider your hardiness zone so the tree can thrive.

Q. What is the best tree-planting charity?

The Arbor Day Foundation is one of the country’s most reputable and largest tree-planting charities, making it the best all-around option for those looking to donate a memorial tree.

Q. Are memorial trees a good idea?

There are many good reasons to choose a memorial tree to honor a friend or family member who has passed away. A sapling is a way to keep the memory of that person alive, as it creates a peaceful place in nature where you can go to remember them. A memorial tree can also serve as a special place to scatter the ashes of that loved one.

Q. How does planting a tree in memory work?

If you choose to purchase a tree, the tree-planting service will ship the memorial tree to you or the recipient. You can then plant it in your yard to serve as a way of remembering a loved one. If you choose to donate the tree, the planting service will plant it in a section of a national forest identified by the U.S. Forest Service as an area damaged by fire, pests, or disease.

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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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