Campus Arbor Day How-to-Guide


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1. Decide who needs to be involved.

Think about who you will need permission from and who you can get support from, both on and off campus. Consider your landscape and academic departments as well as local nurseries, arborists, and gardening clubs.

Find an Arborist near you.

2. Organize a planning committee and set a date for the event.

Meet regularly. Consider Earth Week!

Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees, which can be planted if the ground temperature is above 45 degrees. Planting in the spring is the more common approach, as it gives them a higher chance of surviving the winter

3. Choose the planting site and species and get all necessary permits.

Be sure to think about planting the right tree in the right place—considering hardiness zones, size, soil conditions, etc. Talk to your landscape department, arborists, and nurseries!

Site and Plant Selection Guide

4. Analyze needs and costs.

We recommend you do this months in advance. Think about seeking in-kind donations when possible.

Budgeting for Events

Budget Templates




5. Raise funds & ask for donations

Hold a fundraising event, ask for support from community leaders and businesses and look into the potential for grant funds. We sought donations from local businesses for raffle items, university housing for food, and local celebrities for presentations. We also asked volunteers to bring their own tools if they had them. Our involvement with the community produced the donations that made our Arbor Day successful!

Apply for a tree planting grant.

6. Recruit volunteers.

We attracted volunteers by advertising A LOT, attending university tabling events, and speaking in classes. We reached out to both the university and community. We asked volunteers to sign up and tracked their email and t-shirt size to keep them on the hook for the big day.

7. Order trees and supplies.

Complete this task approximately 3 months in advance and work with a reputable nursery. Our relationship with a local nursery allowed us to utilize “past-due” trees for lower/no cost. We also planted seed flats in the fall and grew them in a greenhouse over winter to use for our Arbor Day.

Get 10 Free Trees, Apply for Free Native Tree Seedlings, Urban Tree Owner's Manual, The Arbor Day Foundation Nursery

8. Invite media participation.

Try to get them to run a story about the event before it happens and cover the event for a story after you’re finished. Here are some of the resources we used:

Posters on & off campus, local business newsletters, campus newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,, Eventbrite, Class raps, campus-wide emails, public scrolling monitors across campus, local TV, local radio, local newspapers, collegiatelink, campus faculty, front page of university website, local schools, local clubs (ex: Master Gardener’s Club)

Use Arbor Day's logo to help promotion.

9. Schedule the event.

Create a schedule for the day. Include a fun activity for volunteers, such as lunch or live music. We also included presentations by experts in the field of sustainability and/or landscaping.




10. Prepare the site.

Don’t forget to check for underground utilities and take “before” photos.

11. Assemble equipment and supplies.

Make sure everything is ready to go on planting day. Ask volunteers to bring their own tools if they have them.

12. Instruct participants and demonstrate proper planting.

Step-by-step directions can be found here

13. Schedule routine maintenance and care.

If you won’t be the one caring for the tree, make sure these arrangements are set up before the event. Your university’s landscape department is your friend!

14. Reward volunteers and other who helped.

Thank them often, sincerely and publicly (when appropriate).

T-shirts and food are always widely appreciated by all age groups.

15. Evaluate the event.

Gather your committee members and volunteers to see what worked well and what didn’t. Learn from your mistakes and tweak next year’s plan as needed!


Tree Info Graphic


Tree Campus USA Toolkit

Tree Campus USA standards