Planting a tree in memory of someone

view of a memorial tree looking up from its trunk to its green leaves

Want to create a memorial for a loved one who’s passed away? Something special that will help friends and family say goodbye? A memory tree could be just the thing.

What is a memory tree?

A memory tree or memorial tree is a living tribute to someone who’s died. It’s usually when a young tree is planted in memory of someone. The earth where the tree is planted can sometimes be the resting place for a person’s cremated ashes or even where their coffin is buried.

Why plant a tree in memory of someone?

Planting a tree in memory of someone is an eco-friendly way to pay your respects to them and a physical place you can visit long after their funeral. It may help you to feel close to them as you grieve. You can return again and again to share memories of them with family and friends.

Where can I plant a tree in memory of someone?

There are a few different places you can plant a tree in memory of someone. You could:

Choose a memory tree for your garden

Consider which types of tree will do well in your garden. If you enjoy gardening you’ll know what plants and shrubs thrive in certain conditions. But if you’re unsure ask for some advice. Your local garden centre may be able to offer some help. And there are many websites that now deliver memorial trees that’ll be suitable for planting in the UK.

But do your own research about maintaining it too. That way you can make sure the tree you plant in memory of someone lives for years to come.

Dedicate or plant a memory tree at your local crematorium gardens

Many local councils across the UK have crematorium gardens where you can dedicate or plant a tree in memory of a loved one. Some crematoriums allow a plaque to be placed next to or on the tree as well.

Keep in mind that some crematoriums will only give you a lease on a memorial tree. That means you pay a fee to dedicate that tree to someone for a few years. After that you may have to renew the lease to keep the personal plaque in place.

If the idea of having to renew a lease is off-putting see if there are any other options at your local crematorium gardens. Many crematoriums have memorial tree statues made from wood or metal. Dedications can be added to the statues in the form of a specially made leaf. These can be inscribed with a message or tribute.

Research protected parks and make a donation to get a memory tree planted

Planting a tree in memory of someone is often in the final wishes of the person who died. They may have wanted to help the environment in some way. So parks and woodland owned by the National Trust and Woodland Trust are a good option.

The trusts offer the opportunity to plant a memory tree in exchange for a donation. Typically this is cheaper than a crematorium. For example, donations to the National Trust start at £5 – the cost it takes for them to plant a young tree. But you can donate more if you like. It all goes towards their efforts to tackle climate change by planting and looking after millions of trees in the next few years. You won’t be given a specific location or tag for the tree. But once you’ve paid your donation the tree will be planted and you’ll receive a dedication to the person who’s passed away. This is usually a certificate in their name.

Search for a memorial forest where you can plant a memory tree

Did you know that there are hundreds of memorial forests across the UK? Here you can pay to plant a memory tree for someone. You may be able to scatter ashes in the earth as the tree is planted. Some memorial forests allow a plaque to be placed on or near the tree too.

Usually the memory trees that are planted in these privately-owned forests are native to the area. So you may only be able to choose from a small number of species or you may not have a choice at all. This is because the aim is to create forest spaces that will thrive in the area and benefit other wildlife and the local community too. Typically, planting a tree in a memorial forest costs a few hundred pounds and you may have to pay more for plaque inscriptions and the admin that goes along with scattering ashes.

After a few decades when a memorial forest is full and memory trees can no longer be added the forest will become a place of recreation for the local community. So it’s a good way of giving something back to your local environment for years to come.

To find a memorial forest near to you, take a look at Life for a Life.

Research woodland burial grounds and see if this option is suitable

If you’d like to plant a tree in memory of someone because of the positive impact it’ll have on the environment then a woodland burial could be of interest too. Instead of a traditional burial in a cemetery or graveyard you can choose to have someone buried in a dedicated natural burial ground. Here trees are planted as grave markers instead of headstones and plaques. Biodegradable coffins are used so that the burial has less impact on the environment than a traditional burial where chemicals are used. The aim is to return back to nature and help the environment even after someone’s death.

Learn more about this type of burial with our guide: What is a woodland burial?

Did you know you can plant a memory tree for someone outside the UK too?

Treedom is an Italian company that offers people the opportunity to dedicate one or more trees to a loved one. You can choose where the tree is planted across their projects in South America, Africa and Asia. Each tree is planted by a local farmer and the community benefits from it whether it’s economically or socially. And as these trees are planted in a warmer climate, they grow quickly and have a positive impact on the environment – an excellent way of paying tribute to a loved one who cared about climate change.


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