Dig a hole, drop in a sapling, refill, mulch, water… and repeat

A growing body of scientific research has shown that planting new trees outside of existing forests and agricultural lands has the potential to increase global forest canopy by more than 25% and to reduce atmospheric carbon by as much as 25% at tree maturity. Tree restoration is among the most effective climate change mitigation solutions available to us.1

The Office of the Alachua County Arborist, Department of Parks and Conservation Lands, supervises volunteer tree plantings in and around the city of Gainesville. The plantings emphasize high-value tree species appropriate for site conditions on County owned right-of-ways, developed County properties, and properties directly influencing the public sphere. Of priority are trees that provide shade for bicycling and human pedestrians, provide erosion control, and support and contribute to wildlife biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Tree plantings are fun, low-effort undertakings to beautify our community and to help foster a sustainable local ecosystem for decades to come.2 Pretty much, you help to dig a hole a couple of feet deep, drop in a juvenile tree, refill, bank the tree with mulch, water, and repeat. No prior tree planting experience is required. Needed tools, gloves, reflective safety vests, potable water, and vegan snacks are provided. You should wear lightweight but sturdy outdoor clothing and closed-toed shoes. A hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant are recommended. Typically, a planting takes 3–4 hours, usually beginning around 9 AM. You must complete a volunteer release form before the planting begins.

Directions to the planting sites, recommendations regarding nearby parking or public transportation options, and additional instructions are posted to this page about a week prior to each planting. If you plan to take part in one of the plantings noted below, please contact Terry Harpold ( or Danielle Jordan ( in advance of the scheduled date.

Join us, get your hands a little dirty, and make some new friends among “the most wondrous products of four billion years of life.”3 Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.4

The Office of the Alachua County Arborist is unaffiliated with the University of Florida. Plantings may be cancelled or rescheduled in case of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances. 

Spring 2020 Trees! plantings

Friday, January 17 – Arbor Day @ Cellon Oak Park, Gainesville, Florida

Celebrate Florida’s Arbor Day in the shade of the magnificent State Co-Champion Cellon Live Oak! At more than 90 feet in height, 30 feet in circumference, and with a 160 foot crown spread, the Cellon Oak is one of the two largest live oaks (Quercus virginiana) in the state of Florida. Following a brief ceremony commemorating Arbor Day and the Cellon Oak, we’ll be planting about twenty trees of several different species. Events begin at 11 AM. Cellon Oak Park is located at 4100 NW 169th Place, Gainesville, Florida, 32663.

Arbor Day Schedule

  • 11:00 AM: Welcome (Charlie Houder, Alachua Parks and Conservation Lands Director)
  • 11:05 AM: Arbor Day Proclamation (Marihelen Wheeler, Alachua County Commissioner)
  • 11:15 AM: Growing a Champion (Lacy Holtzworth, Alachua County Arborist)
  • 11:20 AM: Reading from William Bartram’s 1791 Travels, on the live oaks of Florida (Terry Harpold, University of Florida)
  • 11:25 AM: Demonstration of Tree Planting (Sam Schatz, UF senior in Urban Forestry)
  • 11:45 AM: Ceremonial Tree Plantings

(Additional planting dates in 2020 TBA – watch this page!)

Fall 2019 Trees! plantings

Saturday, November 9 – Eastwood Meadows, Gainesville, Florida

Photo by A. Ewert-Harpold  / CC BY

Twenty-nine sand live oaks (Quercus geminata) were planted throughout this single-family housing development south of Greater Bethel AME Church and north of the Eastside High School campus.

Saturday, October 19 – Cancelled due to inclement weather

Saturday, September 21 – Waldo, Florida

Photo by A. Ewert-Harpold  / CC BY

Twenty-three trees – florida elms (Ulmus americana var. floridana), live oaks (Quercus virginiana), longleaf pines (Pinus palustris), southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), and white oaks (Quercus alba) – were planted at three locations: the Waldo Community CenterWaldo First Baptist Church, and the Waldo City Hall.

Spring 2018 Trees! plantings

Saturday, February 23 pilot planting – Gainesville, Florida

Photo by T. Harpold  / CC BY

Twelve pond-cypresses (Taxodium ascendens) were planted near the intersection of SW Tower and Archer Roads.

Bastin, J.–F. et al., “The Global Tree Restoration Potential,” Science 365: 76-79 (2019).

2 Andreu, M.G. et al.Urban Forest Ecological Analysis. Report to the City of Gainesville, March 2017. City of Gainesville, Florida, 2017.

Richard Powers, The Overstory (2019) – he means the trees.

The Lorax’s famous warning. You know he’s right.

Photos in the image gallery at right by A. Ewert-Harpold  / CC BY