Creating memorials for those who have passed on is a uniquely human experience. Memorials can serve many purposes. They spark joyful memories, give us comfort, and offer strength. Planting a tree in memory is a way to pay tribute to a loss of life by adding new life to the world. Here, you’ll learn how to plant your own memorial tree, and how the process can help you celebrate and cherish the remarkable journey of your loved one.   

Creating a living memorial

When you lose someone close to you, one way to pay tribute to their life and legacy is by planting a memorial tree in their honor. This practice has been performed for thousands of years across many different cultures. The symbolism is both simple and beautiful: as one life comes to an end, a new life grows from it as a physical reminder of their legacy.

A woman holding a young potted memorial tree.

Planting a memorial tree provides a living project to nurture and care for, a place for reflection and remembrance, and a representation of the cycle and rhythm of life. Whether you’re honoring a family member, a close friend, or a beloved pet, planting a memorial tree can be a symbolic and therapeutic experience that can offer comfort, beauty, and a celebration of life. It is also a wonderful way to turn grief into an environmentally restorative ritual.

There are a number of options available for planting a remembrance tree as a tribute to a loved one. If you have the space, you can plant one in your yard to create a living reminder of the relationship you shared with the deceased. There are also a variety of local, national, and international organizations that will plant memorial trees for you or allow you to plant them on public lands, city parks, national forests, or wherever they are needed most to improve the local ecosystem.

Planting a memorial tree on your property

Planting a tree in memory on your property is a great way to focus your mind on a therapeutic task, while at the same time giving yourself a chance to reflect and remember those you have lost. Planning a project, concentrating on the work at hand, and completing the process can offer solace and peace, redirect emotions into a productive act, and create a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. 

At Eterneva, we understand that not everyone has a green thumb, but that doesn’t mean that planting, nurturing, and growing a memorial tree is out of your reach. That’s why we’ve put together a simple step-by-step process for planting a memorial tree on your property:

  1. Choose a seed or sapling of the tree you want to plant.
  2. Select a suitable location on your property to plant the tree.
  3. Be sure to call 811 at least two days before planting so utility workers can come to your property (free of charge) to mark off the locations of any gas lines or underground utilities so you can proceed safely.
  4. Wait for the right season for the type of tree you want to plant.
  5. Gather the necessary tools and supplies for your project (a shovel, stakes to support the sapling, twine/rope to attach stakes, and gloves).
  6. Dig a planting hole that is twice as wide and deep enough to fit the root ball of the sapling (if planting a seed, sow the seed at about two to three times the depth of the seed).
  7. Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball of the sapling is level with the surrounding dirt.
  8. Refill the hole, firmly yet gently packing the soil around the tree.
  9. Stake the tree for support, if necessary, and attach the stakes with rope or twine.
  10. Add mulch around the base of the planted tree (optional).
Sapling sprouting from dirt.

Some businesses offer options to incorporate a loved one’s ashes directly into the process using a plantable, biodegradable urn containing seeds, ph-neutralizing agents, fertilizers, and a small amount of ashes. The ashes and ph-neutralizing agents work together with the fertilizer in the soil to help grow and nourish a beautiful tree.

Whether you decide to purchase a biodegradable urn and use actual ashes, or simply plant a symbolic tree for your loved one that has passed, you should expect to budget an average of $100-150 for the project.

Memorial tree programs 

If you don’t have space or property on which to plant a private memorial tree, don’t worry. There are many local, national, and international programs in existence that offer to plant trees in various locations or provide places where you can grow one yourself. Each of these organizations is a little different, but most are reasonably priced and strongly committed to helping those suffering a loss and rejuvenating the local environment with new trees.

Many of these organizations will allow you to select the area where you to plant, pick from a variety of local native trees, and may even offer the option to create a small plaque or memorial message to accompany it, depending on the location. Memorial trees can also be given as gifts to help someone close to you through a difficult time.

A man looking out at a scenic overlook.

Here are a few programs that offer memorial tree services:

 There are a variety of other programs and businesses that offer memorial tree services, so it’s important to do your own research to find the one that’s right for you.

How memorials help the grieving process

A tangible memorial can have a powerful effect on someone who is experiencing loss. For thousands of years, humans have been creating memorials to help us remember and honor a remarkable life lived. They can serve as a focal point and a catalyst for remembrance, meaning, and storytelling, as well as a living reminder of the profound impact your loved one had on the world.

At Eterneva, we understand the power that a physical representation of a loved one can have. It can help relieve stress and anxiety, provide a sense of warmth and comfort, and allow us to focus our emotions and reflect on our lives and the lives of those close to us. If you have experienced loss, we encourage you to explore memorial options and find out what they can mean to you.