Free Trees at our annual "Arbor Day Tree Giveaway"

Help Sycamore Land Trust celebrate trees! Come get a free tree seedling at our annual “Arbor Day Tree Giveaway.” This year, we will give away more than 1,000 native tree saplings for free in Bloomington and Evansville.

For more than a decade, Sycamore Land Trust’s annual “Arbor Day Tree Giveaway” has distributed hundreds of free tree seedlings each Arbor Day to help our community create beneficial native habitat at home.  Planting trees creates food and shelter for wildlife, absorbs carbon dioxide, and stores carbon in the soil. This year, Sycamore will distribute over 1,000 tree seedlings, make more native tree species available than ever before, and expand the event to Evansville in partnership with Wild Birds Unlimited, Evansville Audubon Society, and Ancient Roots Native Nursery.

“Creating beneficial native habitat for wildlife is just as important at home in our yards and neighborhoods as it is in the nature preserves we protect. We hope this event will inspire our community to join us in planting more native trees to preserve Indiana’s biodiversity,” said John Lawrence, Sycamore Land Trust’s Executive Director.

Arbor Day is a global holiday to celebrate the planting, upkeep, preservation, and ecological importance of trees. Although some states celebrate Arbor Day at different times of year to ensure that the trees are in the best environment to thrive, the national observance falls on the last Friday in April.  This year, Arbor Day is on Friday, April 28, 2023.

“Arbor Day Tree Giveaway – Bloomington”
Bloomingfoods East & Near West
3220 E 3rd St. & 316 W 6th St. Bloomington, IN
Saturday, April 29, 2023
10am – 1pm (while supplies last) 

“Arbor Day Tree Giveaway – Evansville”
Old National Bank Atrium
One Main Street, Evansville, IN
Friday, April 28, 2023
11am – 1pm Central (while supplies last)

Additional giveaways from Wild Birds Unlimited, Ancient Roots Native Nursery, Evansville Audubon Society, and Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge

Learn about tree species and planting information below. Please be aware that the species you want might run out before you get there!  Thanks to our friends at Bloomingfoods Co-op Market for co-hosting this event and to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for supplying the seedlings.

Take a photo with your tree and share it on our Facebook or Instagram page or email it to if you’d like Sycamore to use it in the future! It’s fun to see these Arbor Day Tree Giveaway trees grow over the years.


Download a PDF of planting instructions (with images and explanations)

The following tips and species suggestions come from the City of Bloomington’s Tree Care Manual. When you pick the right tree, be sure to read up on tips for planting and care to help your seedling grow. Check out the manual for details, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Lay down plenty of mulch at the base of the tree, and form it into a donut rather than a volcano shape to direct water toward the tree.
  • For the first three years, water it with 10 gallons per week if there hasn’t been rain.
  • When planting a bare-rooted seedling, don’t bend the root. Dig the hole deep enough to fit the root.
  • Staking might be necessary to provide support for the first two or three years.
  • A tube around the tree seedling in its early years can help protect against deer, rabbits, and mowers/string trimmers.
  • Be sure to plant your seedling with plenty of clearance so when it reaches its full size, it won’t interfere with any structures or pavement.


These tree seedlings from Indiana DNR’s Wildlife Packet were grown at Vallonia Tree Seedling Nursery and are 1-3 years old.  These species are especially important for local wildlife because of the food and shelter they provide. Oaks*, hickories*, black cherry*, and others are considered keystone species that are essential to our ecosystem (Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home). Critical oak and hickory forests are declining in Indiana. Thank you for helping to restore habitat!

Available Tree Species in Bloomington (while supplies last):

American plum Prunus americana
Blackgum (Tupelo) Nyssa sylvatica
Black cherry* Prunus serotina
Black chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa
Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis
Chinkapin oak* Quercus muehlenbergii
Common chokecherry Prunus virginiana
Elderberry Sambucus canadensis
Gray dogwood Cornus racemosa
Hazelnut Corylus americana
Persimmon Diospyros virginiana 
Red oak* Quercus rubra
Shagbark hickory* Carya ovata
Washington hawthorn Crataegus phaenopyrum

Available Tree Species in Evansville (while supplies last):

Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis
Chinkapin oak* Quercus muehlenbergii
Common chokecherry Prunus virginiana
Persimmon Diospyros virginiana
Shagbark hickory* Carya ovata


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