How to get Trees for Free

You see the title of this post, but I should add on to it. It should be “How to get Trees for Free… with Patience

(Also I’m sorry for the lack of posts lately. May was crazy and June has been a lot of catch up from May… I’ll try and keep up throughout the summer)

I could make this ultra simple and say, just dig ’em up and move them where you want them. But lets call that the First way to get trees for Free. The more roots you can dig up and take with the tree, AND the less amount of time the roots are exposed to the air, the better your chance of success.  This is how we have moved dotted some Spruce trees around the more landscaped areas of my parent’s place.


2nd way: Dig up (or if the ground is light and loose, you can pull up), suckers from trees. That is what I have done with these May Day trees (above). They had some decent roots on them, and I put them into some soil in 1 gallon pots. I’ll give them a few weeks to get rooted into the pots, and when they do, I’ll either pot them up into 2 gallon pots and protect them in the pots over winter, OR I’ll plant them out and let them take their chances surviving winter where they will (hopefully) live for good.

3rd way: Find tiny little trees sprouting in your flowerbeds, and gently dig them out and put them into pots similar to the second way. You’ll see the little Spruce seedlings I’ve found in the photos below. I’ve also started collecting some of the baby crab apples that have been very prolific this year, but I didn’t get any decent photos of them for this post.

4th way: grab some willow cuttings and stick them in water. They will make roots and you can put them into soil… either straight to where you want them, or into pots with potting soil. No photos for this one, but try it. Its a great way to grow something easily.

5th way: find someone removing *YOUNG* trees from their yard and offer to take them off their hands.

6th way: From seed… This is the one that needs the most patience. Different types of trees have different germination requirements. Some easy, some more intense. Just do some googling before you start. You’ll see two of the Apple trees I started from seed over the winter in the photos below.

The key to “free” trees is patience and time… and knowing that they may not all survive. I’m of the mind-set of just trying it and seeing if it lives, and you’ll probably learn something along the way.


Also… I will have updates on all the fruit (and other) trees I was telling you about earlier this spring coming very very soon.

in front: Apples I started from seed, and in the 6-pack tray in the back are baby spruce seedlings I dug out of my garden beds


This is one of the Mayday’s I potted up. 


Baby Spruce I dug out of my garden beds




‘Spring Snow’ Crabapple

Like the Bur Oak, this one was a big rescue. The main leader was snapped off. Ultimately, the shape of the tree might be better because of it, it will just be a few years of waiting for it to develop its new shape.

While this is a crabapple and I love edibles… This is purely ornamental because it is sterile. It won’t produce any fruit. This makes it a great option for people who want the beautiful white apple blossoms in the spring, but don’t want any of the mess that can come with the fruit.

We planted this one in view of the kitchen window. It should be a great view in the Spring.

  • Latin Name: Malus x ‘Spring Snow’
  • Height: 20-30′
  • Spread: 10-20′
  • Zone: 3


I’ll try and get photos of this one while it is blooming, Or get my mom out there to take photos of it incase I can’t get back home with the right timing.


‘Parkland’ Apple

Like the ‘Brookgold’ Plum, I don’t have a picture of this one. So I’ll try and be extra diligent in getting some this year while it is growing…

Ever since I was little, I wanted apple trees. Finally I had the opportunity to get some, and plant them at my parents house. Someday… Someday I will have my very own orchard.

Quick Notes:

  • Cold Hardiness: Zone 3 (some places say Zone 2, and that it is worth a shot in sheltered Zone 1)
  • Ripens Mid-August
  • Hardy Tree, well rated for the Prairies
  • Introduced by the Morden Research Station in Manitoba in 1979
  • Stores well, good for fresh eating and also cooking.
  • Latin: Malus ‘Parkland’

I read somewhere that this apple owes part of its breeding to the Rescue Apple… So I have a little family in “my” orchard 😉


Previous Tree Posts:

‘Crimson Passion’ Cherry

‘Brookgold’ Plum

‘Rescue’ Crabapple

‘Bur’ Oak

Multi-Graft Apple

Ohio Buckeye



Ohio Buckeye

Yep, another rescue tree. Obviously, given its ugly duckling looks. (Also, another non-edible)

This is another tree I’m looking forward to, so I hope it thrives. If you are curious why I am excited for this one… just look to the background. All we have that is native in the area, are Poplar (Balsam and Trembling Aspen), Willow, Black spruce and Tamarack, along with a handful of pine. This one will just add some interest and hint of something different.

They are said to have gorgeous orange Fall colour. Their leaves are compound, with 5 “leaflets” forming a leaf cluster. Like a leaf hand.

This tree is toxic if eaten, so if you have livestock, or dogs (or children) that might chew on the leaves or nuts, this may not be the tree for you. But if you are looking for a hint of something different, this is one to keep in mind.

Latin Name: Aesculus glabra

Zone 2, and quite rare in our area.

Height will be around 20-30′ with a 20′ spread.

The spring flowers will be another unique addition to the landscape at my parent’s house.

Ohio Buckeye 2018


If this tree doesn’t make it (or it loses a branch or two), I’ll be making buttons out of it, and they will be available on my Etsy shop: Back 40 Woodcraft


These trees have a long tap root and dislike overly wet soil, so depending on the Spring we have, this may or may not like its new home… this is why I wrote “if this tree doesn’t make it” above. Keep your fingers crossed for it, because it will make a beautiful addition if it can survive.

‘Multi Graft’ Apple

This is another save. It struggled all spring and early summer: it got beat up by a huge hail storm, it struggled with irrigation issues, and it was destined to be burnt. But it still had life left in it and I got a little bit attached to having an apple tree. This was the first apple I got last year… The gateway tree if you will.

Hopefully it survives this winter, after all it survived last year. The grafted branches weren’t labelled, so I’ll have to sues out which is which after they have apples (which may not be for a year or so).

The varieties grafted onto this tree are:

  • Harcourt
  • September Ruby
  • Battleford
  • Norland

A little description on each variety from the nursery this tree came from:

  • Harcourt
    • Zone 3
    • Apple is medium, red, crisp, juicy, white-fleshed and mild-flavoured
    • Ripens in Late Summer- early fall
    • Eating, Baking or Juicing Apple
    • no notes on this variety’s storage qualities from the nursery
  • September Ruby
    • Zone 3
    • Apple is large, sweet and bright red
    • Fall apple
    • Fresh eating or juicing Apple
    • Good Storage Qualities
  • Battleford
    • Zone 3
    • Apple is medium, yellow-green with red stripes.
    • Late Summer ripening
    • Eating or Cooking Apple
    • Fair Storage Qualities
  • Norland
    • Zone 2
    • Apple is medium, green with red stripes
    • Fruit drops when ripe in the Summer
    • Eating or Baking Apple
    • Stores well if picked under-ripe


If this tree makes it (and does well), I would love to get another multi-grafted apple tree with different varieties on it. If you have any advice on any of these varieties, or a multi-grafted tree, share in the comments below.

Previous Tree Posts:

‘Crimson Passion’ Cherry; ‘Brookgold’ Plum; ‘Rescue’ Crabapple; and Bur Oak.

Upcoming: ‘Spring Snow’ Crabapple; Ohio Buckeye; ‘Parkland Apple’ and possibly some profiles on the native trees in the area.

My Etsy Shop: Back 40 Woodcraft


Here are the photos I have of the tree. You can see the slight differences in the background. This first one was later in the summer, and you can see a few additions that are not in the 2nd photo.Multi-graft Apple 2018

This is how I managed to get the tree back to my house (going slow on back roads). From my house, it got to recover a few days before my dad came with his truck to take it back to their house.