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Comments regarding National Arbor Day Foundation

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64 positives
26 neutrals
69 negatives

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RatingAuthorContent
Negative kathyl0u
(1 review)
On Dec 28, 2010, kathyl0u Corry, PA wrote:

When I sent my $10 "donation" to ADF with the promise of 10 free trees, plus lilac bushes, etc. I didn't expect much, but I did expect some common sense from a foundation that wants to grow healthy plants. Although I sent in late summer/ealry fall the shipment wasn't received till around mid Dec. By then we had 2-4 feet of snow in our yard. We live in the snowbelt. If ADF had done its homework they'd have known that. They claim they'll be shipped at the best time for planting in our area, but Dec. is rarely the best time to plant anything here! We never received the lilac bushes...just as well, I guess. The tiny twigs are still lying out in our back room; no chance to plant them. If ADF really cared about growing things, they wouldn't send the babies to their certain demise by shipping them to a snowy death! Such a shame.

Positive robert693
(2 reviews)
On Dec 8, 2010, robert693 Dahinda, IL wrote:

One reason to join the Arbor Day Foundation is to get fruit trees really cheap. They are small but do grow. I have ordered peach and cherry trees that are doing as well as the 25 dollar trees I bought at a local garden center. The Arbor Day trees were only 4 dollars. The 10 free trees are just a thank you and aren't really that great but do grow most of the time. I wouldn't send them money for the free trees. The Arbor Day Foundation is a charity that has done much to educate about the importance of trees. They were instrumental in educating farmers about shelter belts and in reforestation in this country. It has four stars from the Charity Navigator website and is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.

Positive cris23464
(1 review)
On Oct 10, 2010, cris23464 Virginia Beach, VA wrote:

Why do I support the Arbor Day Foundation?
1. This is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity that donates time, effort and money to reforesting our National Parks, teaching children about the importance of trees through the "Nature Explore Classrooms" program, and encouraging adults to create a better living environment through the "Tree City USA" program. It is also working to train inhabitants of Central America's rain forests in improved agricultural and conservation skills so that they can continue to live as they traditionally have without leaving a huge negative impact. It's not all about the free stuff.
2. 90% of the trees I have received have lived. The free trees are tiny but do grow. My only problem was identification through the color-coding.
3. The newsletters help broaden my knowledge of trees.
4. I feel good doing my little part to repair this planet.

Neutral Toni05
(61 reviews)
On Sep 11, 2010, Toni05 Brookfield, IL wrote:

Never send a donation, unless you plan on joining.

I get continuous letters from the Arbor Day Foundation. A few months ago, I decided to send a small, very small donation, without asking for trees, or any other products.

Now, they write at least once a week. They say I'm a member. I am NOT a member, didn't ask to be a member, I don't want to be a member, and sure don't want 10 trees. We don't have room for one, let alone ten!
I don't know if they pay for postage, but so far, by sending numerous letters, they've spent more in postage then I sent as a gift. lol

If anyone decides to send a gift out of the goodness of your heart, there are numerous charities. The Humane Society is a great choice, and foundations for diseases. Cancer, Heart, Lung, etc, etc. Toni

Negative marybe
(1 review)
On Sep 8, 2010, marybe Portland, OR wrote:

I would Avoid this scam at all costs. They tell you the trees are free, but charge you 10 bucks to join...ok, so it turns out what you pay for what you get, a buck a plant, a buck a sick and and paltry plant that is. After 40 years I know what good stock is, and this is not it...and this is the first 100% negative review I've ever given.

Stunted stock that no self respecting nursury would sell. I also made the mistake of ordering a few extra plants...they came dead, and never recovered though they got immedicate and tender care. The few things that did survive were the smallest excuses for nursery stock I've seen in 40 years of mail orders!! Bare none.
And, to top it all off...if you don't watch them, they will renew your "$10 membership" each year without your permission, costing you even more.
To top it 0ff even more, they call themselves a "non-profit", as if they are doing us and the world a favor...well, if the world deserves to get ripped off, by folks selling garbage, and paying no taxes either, they I guess they are right on.
Personally, I stand by my assessment:
AVOID this company, it is dishonest and inept, and doesn't even attempt to approach the quality good gardeners have come to appreciate.

Negative Phrederica_VA
(6 reviews)
On Aug 29, 2010, Phrederica_VA Montpelier, VA wrote:

Sure, they send little twigs that may or may not survive. But the worst part is they always send them at the worst time of year. They claim it is "the best for your area", but June is a terrible time to plant in Virginia! It is not even in their range of when they are supposed to arrive. I read another complaint from someone way up north who got their trees long after the ground was frozen solid.

My theory is that they get the trees at the end of the season from cheap tree sellers at a huge discount. I find it hard to believe that they want people to grow trees when they are so uninterested in the success of their seedlings.

I made the mistake, after receiving half-dead sticks in the heat of June, to order some hazel nut trees. They were beautiful seedlings when they arrived in a timely manner in spring. They looked like they were greenhouse raised, not field raised, and normally I would have carefully hardened them off. But, the directions promised me that the best method was planting them immediately. The first mild frost blasted the bark right off of them.

Neutral pookerella
(9 reviews)
On Aug 12, 2010, pookerella Bellmore, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Posted on June 12, 2006, updated August 12, 2010
Arbor Day, regardless of the questionable donation fund placements you will read below, is an excellent source for education and also a really great website. Their EMAIL customer service is excellent. Paul Knapp, who answers my unending questions with a great deal of patience, is alone enough for the money for his help in figuring out what to do with these trees and shrubs and with help with plant ID. I'm neutral on their telephone support because I had one good and one bad experience. Unfortunately, the only things I remember is that one was nice and one was very mean and nasty.

I wish I could say that I was pleased with what I received, both the 10 free trees and the numerous ones I paid for, but I certainly was not. About 50% of the trees/shrubs are doing OK. I was shipped my PAID trees in very late fall. I told them I wasn't happy about this and they offered to send them "a little earlier for a $25 fee." I planted them and about 8 of them died (I will say, they did promptly refund my money for the trees and also offered, as an option to my refund, to replace them in the late fall). My 10 free trees were shipped after our ground was frozen (even though I begged them not to send them at that time) so I put them in pots and 6 of them actually sprouted and did better than the ones I paid for that I planted outside late in fall (but 4 did nothing). I got the free trees sent again, believe it or not, in early spring because I complained that it was too cold to dig in fall. I actually wrote to them to say "never mind," but they sent them anyway. The second set was even better than the first, even though they were TEENY. I got the "flowering trees" both times, and the first time, I received ZERO redbud trees (didn't find this out till AFTER they grew). I think I got their Prairie crabapple (in addition to the sargeant's crab that is part of their collection) which isn't a terrible thing, but the redbud was the only tree I REALLY wanted! The golden rain trees were duds in both shipments. The Hawthornes only came in the first set; I didn't get any in the second (yes, more crabapples).

Unless you live in a warm climate, take your 10 free trees, pot them in a greenhouse (it's nice cause they can stay outside with no heat all winter) or basement with a grow light and give them food and attention. You'll have a better shot at getting a tree that will live and thrive. As far as purchasing your trees and shrubs from them? There is a about a 50/50 chance they will die. Pay for the "expedited" shipping (you will literally have to beg them to tell you this exists) and take your chances. If not, there are many, many nurseries where you can purchase these trees and shrubs from that will not give you such a hard time about shipping and you will get more than just a stick with a bare root.


On August 27th, 2006, pookerella added the following:

To answer the post from miulloj, I don't mind the "free trees" being not much to write home about, but how about the ones you pay for? 50% of them did nothing, plus the ones I paid for....I didn't even get the right things! I now have 2 purple leafed plum trees growing where there should be 2 SHRUBS and I am not too happy about it!
On August 12th, 2010, pookerella added the following:

Update: My "almond" tree is actually a peach tree. I got a ton of peaches, although I have no interest in having a peach tree. I wanted an almond tree.
Negative egardens
(9 reviews)
On Apr 26, 2010, egardens Hutto, TX wrote:

Ordered months in advance, their website lists old shipping dates, follow up e-mail informed me they ship much later to Texas for dormancy and heat window. I was fine with that. I ordered from several suppliers last year. The Arbor day plants I paid for were the worst performers and most are disposed of now. All the free plants did great, crape myrtles, forsythia, and red maple, all the purchased plants did terrible, so I guess we are even as far as the value is concerned (I spent $60 on many plants, got 8 free plants as a bonus and they are all doing fine, while every plant I bought I discarded or is extremely stressed still). I would especially dissuade anyone from purchasing the evergreen seedlings, unless you want to pot them and nurse them back to health (Which Arbor day themselves say it is best not to do).

Positive Maelynn2010
(1 review)
On Apr 7, 2010, Maelynn2010 Momence, IL wrote:

I have donated to the Arbor Day Foundation for several years now. They send me the twigs in the mail and, believe or not they actually grow most of the time. Yes, they are just little tiny trees, but if you dig a deep hole and put the little guys in there with some good potting mix, you'll be surprised how well they will do. Many of my trees looked completely dead the first year, but the next summer suddenly started growing. Don't give up on the little guys. Keep watering. I have also ordered fruit trees from them with AMAZING success. I have 2 apple, 2 pear, and one peach tree. They are beautiful and grow by, literally, feet every year. By the second year my peach tree was producing fruit. I think this foundation is definately worth the donation regardless of the tiny twigs they send you. And if you are willing to purchase a few trees from them, I doubt you would be disappointed. I have always had excellent experiences with them.

Positive flowers4birds
(10 reviews)
On Jan 9, 2010, flowers4birds Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

It must have been at least 20 years ago or more that we sent a donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation and received our 10 tiny twigs. They were pathetic and not what we expected at the time. Some of the species were not hardy in our zone 4 climate so we never expected them to grow.

One was supposed to be a Flowering Dogwood which definitely is not hardy here, but to our surprise it grew. That is because it was NOT a Flowering Dogwood at all, but a Silky Dogwood; a much branched shrub that would have clusters of tiny flowers if it ever bloomed, but it never has. The many long slender twigs would be suitable for basket-making if I were into basketry. We've cut it down many times, but it always comes back again as healthy as ever.

There were a couple of tiny blue spruce that grew just fine and if we'd ever got around to moving them out of the garden nursery they would be beautiful trees by now. The spruces and dogwood are no longer thriving well having been shaded out by the gorgeous oak tree that grew from the tiny white oak seedling they sent us. It turned out to be a Swamp White Oak which is perfect for the moist garden where we planted it. It is now a big tree bearing an annual crop of acorns eagerly foraged by the local deer. It is now many times bigger than the large Swamp White Oak we paid big bucks for at a local nursery.

My positive rating is for all the fun we had watching that oak tree grow and waiting for acorns so we could identify what species of oak it is. The species of dogwood we had never seen before was also interesting, and the fact that several of those little sticks they sent grew amazed us. $10 is mighty cheap for an oak tree like the one we have now. After all this time, I'm thinking of donating another $10 to see what we'll get this time to provide more fun watching it turn into a tree.

If only one of your tiny trees grows, you get more than your money's worth. And supporting the Arbor Day Foundation is a good thing. The world needs more trees to remove CO2 from the air, make oxygen, grow acorns for deer and squirrels, and add shade to our yards.

Positive withad
(7 reviews)
On Sep 8, 2009, withad Warren Center, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

My first order was for their 10 free trees for a $10.00 donation, 10 little sticks arrived. Wow, got burnt on this one. All 10 planted according to directions( with fencing) WOW all 10 sprouted and are doing well( second year) the crabapples are over 4 feet tall already.
Second order ,15 different Azaleas, all died. Called them, got order replaced for free including shipping and all 15 are doing terrific. So I guess I can't complain, except for the amount of promo they send out I am pleased with their products and customer service.

Positive henderson9
(8 reviews)
On Sep 8, 2009, henderson9 Camden, SC wrote:

I just don't understand the harshness of many of the comments directed toward National Arbor Day Foundation. Ten trees for ten bucks, what does a person expect for that? I have joined NADF many times. The small seedlings of varying quality are immediately placed in one gallon nursery pots. Generally about 80% live. I leave them in my nursery area from a year to three years and eventually place them in the yard. The plants have done very well over the years, and for only ten or fifteen dollars I supported an important organization, and also ended up with 7-8 trees that eventually made it into the yard as healthy transplants. I've also ordered many trees from the foundation. Those trees are higher quality than the freebies, and are at a very reasonable price. In the next day or two I'll order three of their kousa dogwood trees. I challenge anyone to find as nice a tree for anywhere close to the $6.98 price tag.

Positive gardencurmudgeo
(1 review)
On Jun 29, 2009, gardencurmudgeo Omaha, NE wrote:

We all need to remember that the Arbor Foundation sends bare root plantings. They are often referred by seed companies as "lining out stock" (less than 12") and "whips", up to 3' or so. No body should expect guaranteed success or large potted trees for just a few dollars! I generally order from the Arbor Foundation oak and pine not carried in local nurseries. This is extremely valuable, as most nurseries don't carry some of the best trees, as they can be slow starters or just aren't trendy.
I also research what I will order, finding that some distributors are less frank than others about tree performance, effect of soil, climate and pests. I have learned that the "sticks" referred to by some can be successful if: trees are. planted immediately, as directed. Use of a growth stimulant can make a big difference. So does soil type and initial watering. These are minimal risk offerings where the best results are to a large degree up to the gardener and his/her research and gardening practices. Other
sources have delivered dry root stock to me in poor condition, but I cannot say that of the Arbor Foundation in the last 15 years I have used them in Nebraska.

Negative kentuckywoman2
(1 review)
On Jun 2, 2009, kentuckywoman2 Louisville, KY wrote:

Last spring I gave a $10 contribution for which I was to receive 10 flowering trees and 1 crapemyrtle. I expected the trees to be shipping in the spring or early summer, but by NOVEMBER I still had not received my trees. I called and got no response to my inquiry of "Where are my trees?", so I emailed and finally got a response. However, the response was that since I was in hardiness zone 7, the trees would be shipped in December! First of all, I'm in hardiness zone 6, NOT 7. When I alerted the Arbor Day Foundation to that, they said that they were the ONLY organization to "update" the hardiness zones, and now I was in Zone 7. Then, the customer service gal, Carla, proceeded to tell ME what my weather is like here in Kentucky! I finally escalated the call to speak to her supervisor, who shipped me my trees around the end of November. Unfortunately, we had already had a couple of freezes and since our soil is mainly clay, I had a very difficult time trying to dig deep enough to plant the "twigs" they sent me. Needless to say, THEY ALL DIED. I recently requested a replacement shipment and was told, by the same Carla, that my replacement trees would be shipped in Spring of 2010, unless I wanted them to be shipped in Fall 2009! Unacceptable! Again, the last time they shipped in "Fall", it was actually way past Fall and into Winter. Again, I informed them that their zones were not correct, according to our weather patterns, and again, this Carla proceeded to tell ME what our weather here in Kentucky is like! Finally, I requested a refund of my $10 and I'm now told it will take about 3-4 weeks. At least that's faster than they ship their "twigs." I have been a member since 2003 and this Carla person was the last straw. She's rude and arrogant and if she's the best they can do to represent their customer service department, then they have a real problem. In any case, I'll do my tree and shrub buying from a local nursery. I'll not do business with the Arbor Day Foundation again. They are clueless. Absolutely clueless.

Negative jbarton7
(1 review)
On Jun 1, 2009, jbarton7 Arvada, CO wrote:

I gave a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation over three months ago with the promise from them that I would received 8 free trees and a lilac bush. I have yet to recieve them. I don't expect to receive something in return for a donation but I do expect an organization to honor its promises and to remit promised goods. I cannot respect a company that uses a bait and switch tactic to suck donations out of people. I can respect a company that does simply ask for a donation and doesn't promise anything to me personally in return, and I can donate to those organizations. All I have received from ADF is more solicitations for money and more (empty I'm sure) promises of goods. As a company, I mean organization, that seems very commercially interested, this is very poor business practice as I will never buy a plant from them and will talk anyone out of it who threatens to do so.

To make things worse, I have been trying to email them about my complaint for over a week now and their website is broken and supposedly being repaired. It makes them seem to be hiding from the complaints.

I have little faith at this point that they are interested in anything that has to do with improving the earth. I am sure the only thing they are interested in is taking as much money as they can get their hands on. And they do not care how unethical their methods are to obtain it.

Positive forsythiasue
(1 review)
On May 19, 2009, forsythiasue Goldendale, WA wrote:

Received my 10 free trees as well as a few things I ordered seperately. Had my doubts about the little twigs surviving but after following the included instructions, weathering a horrible snow storm, being trampled by deer, my little "twigs" are doing great!
My 5 free Forsythia are about 3 feet tall, my Rose of Sharon actually bloomed the same summer I planted them. My Red Bud tree is also about 3-4' tall and I have no qualms about ordering from them again. You only have to follow the directions, read the description of what you're ordering so you understand what they are shipping, and water them faithfully. Ordered last spring and all have been in the ground for only 1 year and show substantial growth. I paid my membership and received 5 free Rose of Sharon 2 weeks ago and they are already leafing out. 5-19-2009

Negative twettie
(1 review)
On May 11, 2009, twettie Petal, MS wrote:

I sent $20 and got 10 twigs, 7 of which had a hair root on each, and 3 with no roots and the size of a pencil. The seven with the roots were about the same size as a pencil. Of the seven planted a month ago 4 are showing some very small growth on them. I pulled the rest out and their roots had not gained any hairs so I threw them away. I should be dead by the time they are full grown trees. I feel dupped. I could have gone to a tree nursery and got a better deal. I will not order any more trees from this organization, and would advise anyone else not to unless they want to give a donation to an organization that is deceptive about what they really send you.

Neutral OneAkela
(1 review)
On Apr 27, 2009, OneAkela Chesterfield, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I was a member for one year, drawn in by the 10 free trees offer. Along with the free offer, I also placed an order. Two of my order trees died. At least two of the free trees died. Some of the others are not growing fast. I am giving a Neutral rating as what they sent me was a mixed bag. Some grew and some didn't. Also, curious note: what they said was a flowering dogwood, seems to be an oak tree.... huh?

Funny thing is, they keep mailing me membership materials every 3-4 weeks. You'd think that after 3-4 mailings, they would get the message that I am not renewing.

Positive LadyAethelwyne
(1 review)
On Mar 22, 2009, LadyAethelwyne Harriman, TN wrote:

I became a member of Arbor Day last year (2008). Received my baby trees in a little bag like the kind newspapers are put in, and I was worried as I've never tried planting baby trees before. The tree roots were moist and covered in hydrating gel. I let them soak in water like the book said, then planted them carefully.
This spring, I've noticed little branches sprouting from all of the "twigs", and two have tiny leaves on them. They are doing so well!
I ordered 8 more trees, a bit worried because I read the feedback here and was expecting more "twigs". However, to my delight, I received a box about 5 foot tall in the mail today. Tied to a bamboo stick for support was a 4 ft tall maple, a kousa with lots of little branches and green buds, a budding saucer magnolia, and three arborvitaes that looked like the baby christmas trees bought in a store. Only the Japanese maples looked like sticks, but all of the trees had very long and (in some cases) very thick roots. I thought I would have to nurse these in my garden like the babies, but I'm thrilled that I can go ahead and plant them in my yard!

On customer service, I made my order but forgot the kousa dogwood. I sent an email, and the kind representative cancelled my order so I could do a new one with the kousa included. My new order arrived in just a few days!

Positive plantgnome
(26 reviews)
On Jan 19, 2009, plantgnome Coram, NY wrote:

Most of the feedback made me laugh-which is a good thing. I received my free twigs in December of 07. I couldn't tell which was which tree. until i noticed microscopic paint spots on them. I planted them the next weekend, after soaking them per their instructions. Kind of hard to do as they kept floating around. They are in their temporary fenced in area, until or if they survive. Since planting them we have had three snow storms and an ice storm. So I really don't have high hopes for them. If they grow, I'll be happy, if not I hope my donation helps with their cause. No big loss. (They were very quick to reply to my email regarding shipping time, however I think they were shipped much too late.)


On April 12th, 2009, plantgnome added the following:

Well my twigs are growing, my crabapple is leafing out and several of the others are getting buds. Needless to say I am astonished, but very happy. I also ordered a downy serviceberry tree with a free red maple. The serviceberry is budding and the maple is doing fine. I am happy with all their products, will get other trees from them in the future. So never say never until you give it a try. I do baby the "twigs" and have treated them with biological tree growth activator, which probably helped a great deal, whatever the reason, they did make it thru the first winter!
On May 18th, 2009, plantgnome added the following:

Out of the ten "twigs" I received eight of them are flourishing, have leaves and have grown taller. So in another year, I can move them to their permanent homes!
Negative yardener
(19 reviews)
On Jan 16, 2009, yardener Greenfield, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

What do you expect for 10 bucks. Over the years its been kind of a hobby for me to see if the sticks will grow into anything. After ordering 40 flowering "sticks" (the last order was 5 years ago) I have 3 Washington Hawthorns and 2 crabapples. Lets see, thats 1 out of 8 that make it to waist height in 10 years. Thats $8 per tree. Still a good bargain? I wouldn't waist my time.
I've had over 85% success rate with better bargains at other tree sources.
If you want a challenge, order from NADF. If you want trees, go somewhere else.

Neutral gsteinbe
(19 reviews)
On Jan 13, 2009, gsteinbe Trenton, NJ wrote:

As some others have noted, the National Arbor Foundation is a good cause but not always a good supplier of trees and bushes. I've gotten several free deals from them, and usually only one or two out of 8 or 10 plants survives -- but since they're free, who could complain? I joined their Hazelnut Project with great anticipation. I'd like to raise more of my family's food in our own yard, and hazelnuts sounded like a good idea. The first year, the hazelnuts arrived and showed no signs of life -- in the package or in the ground. When I received my survey a year later to ask how the hazelnuts did, I said that they never showed any signs of life. I received a nice letter asking if I would be willing to continue in the program and get more free hazelnuts. I said yes. The next shipment of hazelnuts looked much, much better. They had signs of life. I planted them with much anticipation and excitement. They promptly died. So, I've declined further requests to continue in the Hazelnut Project. Instead, I bought some hazelnuts from Oikos Tree Crops and planted them in exactly the same spot as the second year's National Arbor Day Foundation hazelnuts. The Oikos hazelnuts did just fine all summer and fall.

Negative GideonOrchards
(4 reviews)
On Jan 10, 2009, GideonOrchards Springboro, PA wrote:

NADF is the bad result of trying to mix business and charity.

I've ordered from them a couple times over the years.

Currently, they are having a competition with Autumn ridge to see who can sell the smallest twigs and call them "trees" without breaking into maniacal laughter when you call and ask, "um, hello, you sent me a handfull of twigs by mistake, I ordered trees."

I fully expect that the Scarlet Oaks they sell will soon be shipped out in the form of an acorn. It will simplify planting.

Apples and pears I ordered were borderline acceptable. Other trees (cherries and such) were too small.

Folks, it's pretty simple. You'll spend 5 or 10 bucks on the most useless crap, so spend 5 or 10 bucks on a tree that will then produce fruit for you 5 or more years earlier than what this charity/business sells you, and you avoid the aggravation of trying to find your new plantings among the clover and dandelions.

Support the cause with a straight donation - buy your trees elsewhere.

Positive farrissophie
(1 review)
On Nov 8, 2008, farrissophie Pocono Summit, PA wrote:

I ordered from Arbor Day, about 6 years ago, I ordered the ten free flowering trees, all lived but two, I left all but one of them at my old house, it is now over 4 feet tall, and last spring was the first time it produced beautiful cherry colored blooms, I just recently gave them my new address, and this time I order ten free Norway Spruce trees, they all arrived very healthy, and with a good root system, I planted the way the told me to, and they are doing great, my yard will have privacy from the neighbours sooner than I expected.
Thanks Arbor Day!

Positive wildeflower
(1 review)
On Oct 16, 2008, wildeflower Monmouth, IL wrote:

I have been a member since 1992, and have joined in the hazelnut research program too. I have a nice 7' x 5.5' Colorado Spruce that I received as a "smaller than pencil" bare root freebie among redbud and others. I have a hazelnut bearing for the first time this year in my front yard.
I am a satisfied member, still contributing, and appreciating the free literature and online information forms. I am a college horticulture student at present and find their infomation to be accurate, and more thorough than some.
I am a zone 5A resident of IL.

Positive rexymama
(1 review)
On Aug 12, 2008, rexymama Bristol, CT wrote:

This past spring I placed several orders with the Arbor Day Foundation. I was drawn to them because of their selection and prices. I am also planting in my yard with the intention of enjoying the growth process of the trees/shrubs (ie not looking for full-grown trees for fifty times the price).

All items arrived bare-root, like I often get online. I followed the directions--soaking the roots, digging holes, etc. I laughed a little looking out at the "sticks" in my yard. Within a couple of weeks, however, I was excited to see the first growth.

The most impressive plant so far this year (just over three months since I planted) is the Elberta Peach, which went from an 18-inch "stick" to an amazing tree almost 5 feet tall. The Goldenraintree and Purpleleaf Sand Cherry are doing well, approximately doubled in height. I planted a 50-foot row of privet hedge which started as "sticks" between 6-12 inches long, which have grown to about 2 feet tall and branched out well.

Amazingly enough, the only things I got from them that haven't flourished are the free red maple trees that they send with each order. It has taken them about 3 months to get their first leaves...no big loss since I didn't order them specifically.

I will not hesitate to join again for the upcoming year. It is such a small fee to join, it is a non-profit, and I intend to send next year's "free" membership trees to a local school, since I don't need them right now.

Negative Bethli
(1 review)
On Aug 12, 2008, Bethli Durham, CT wrote:

Buyer Beware! Trees are smaller than a #2 pencil and most won't grow at all. Worst of all this applies to purchased trees not just the 10 free trees that comes with the membership. The trees are so tiny that if they grow at all they need to be planted in a protected garden for at least a year. At the size they arrive it is doubtful that they will be able to survive a winter.

If you want to support the Foundation, do so. Just don't bother to order trees. Save your money for a site with a proven track record.

Positive krodero
(4 reviews)
On Jul 7, 2008, krodero Avon, CT wrote:

I have been a member for a number of years now and will continue to support this company. I orded 3 nanking cherry bushes and a scarlet spiral willow from them this year--their prices are the best. My willow is looking great out there and has sprouted up about 6 inches in the 2-3 months since I planted it. My cherry bushes--2 arrived DOA. I planted them anyway to see if I was wrong, but they had not passed a scratch test and remained as dead as I had expected. A few weeks after their arrival, I called arbor day. Their policy says they will replace plants at half price if they don't live, but I was afraid of sending good money on top of bad, but figured I'd call anyhow just to see what they said. The man on the phone got my name, linked it to my address and when I said that they had arrived dead, he did not question me in the slightest. Just said he would send replacements right away. They came quickly with great root structures (unlike the poor sticks that had come the first time) and are thriving--as long as the deer leave them alone. Thanks arbor day!

Positive donicaben
(9 reviews)
On May 29, 2008, donicaben Ogdensburg, NY wrote:

My free trees looked great!

http://www.localnet.com/~donicaben/norway.jpg
http://www.localnet.com/~donicaben/norway2.jpg

And the trees I orderred were bigger than one's I've orderred from big nurseries! They're a little slow on shipping, but that's because everyone buys trees from them to save a buck so they are constantly backlogged with orders.


On June 6th, 2008, donicaben added the following:

Well, my free trees are turning orange (they're Norway Spruces). :-( I'm still keeping this as a positive though until I see how my purchased trees survive through the next year. I want to believe that this is a good company because it's a non-profit.

If you're looking for speedy deliveries and high-tech order updates and such I wouldn't reccommend.
Positive BotanicalBoi
(4 reviews)
On May 16, 2008, BotanicalBoi Carrollton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I can not believe the people who have the nerve to leave negative comments for a NON PROFIT GROUP! People get a grip! The free trees are a thank you for your DONATION. I have actually had a high percentage of the trees that they have sent live. Not too bad being that seedlings donít always have the best odds.

Negative dkgarber
(1 review)
On May 16, 2008, dkgarber Franklin, MA wrote:

I wasn't expecting much out of the 10 free trees, so when I opened a package of sticks, I wasn't too disappointed, as I figured they'd be crap.

However, I did buy 4 Pee Gee Hydrangeas and was flabbergasted when they arrived in the same condition and size as the free trees. Wait a minute..you mean I paid good money for these?

It's now 2 years later and my Pee Gees are only about a foot tall. I have to mark them with red ribbon each spring or they'd get pulled as "weeds". They are a moderately fast growing tree normally, but mine are about the same size as 2 years ago--they 've sprouteda few branches, but not much.

I just topdressed them w/some humus and cmposted manure to try and boost them up a bit.

I am beyond disappointed. I expected them to be "experts" but was I wrong.

Positive pittsburghTrees
(1 review)
On Apr 16, 2008, pittsburghTrees Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

It amazes me these negative comments. Saplings have a very low survival rate. 60% of saplings die and 90% do not survive the 1st year in nature. You can hardly blame Arbor day for Mother Natures survival rate of trees. You can improve the odds by planting them with TLC and keeping them safe from animals and competing plants. They sent out 8.7 million trees last year, which is very impressive. I know going into it that the 10 membership saplings are very small and have a low survival rate. It is well documented on the website that these saplings will be very small and need a lot of love in order to survive.
If you want trees with a higher survival rate, you need to stay away from saplings. You can get older trees through Arbor day as well, for a good price. But no one should judge Arbor day for the naturally low survival rate of saplings.

Positive CaptMicha
(27 reviews)
On Dec 23, 2007, CaptMicha Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

For some reason, I received a couple of free Dogwoods from them. I didn't order, sign up or even contact them that I know of.

The packing sure was strange. The instruction sheet (regular computer paper) was in the same newspaper bag like sleeve with the trees so the paper was wet. And that was the extent of the packing. No box, insulation, cushioning or anything.

Even though the trees were packed so poorly, they were dormant and both looked fine with some green and I have them sitting in my garage ready to be planted out when it warms up.

Positive lindakilgore10
(1 review)
On Nov 11, 2007, lindakilgore10 Dothan, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have had very good luck with them. I would buy from them again.

Positive centuri
(2 reviews)
On Jul 23, 2007, centuri Agency, IA wrote:

I have personally never had any trouble with this company. I have been a member for several years, and all of the products I have ordered from Arbor Day have been of relatively good quality, especially the fruit trees I ordered in 2005 and 2006.

Positive Buddy44
(24 reviews)
On Jun 9, 2007, Buddy44 Eagle Rock, VA wrote:

This is the second, and last, year I will receive dead plants from this organization. Last year the free red maple was the only tree that sprouted. All the fruit trees were DOA. This year, one of the plum trees was dead. I don't mean that they just didn't sprout. I could find no living tissue on the plants. I was not disappointed in the size to price ratio, but I am disappointed that the organization supporting tree planting nationwide would ship dead plants. I won't order from them again.


On March 19th, 2008, Buddy44 changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:

I am tardy in writing this. Last fall, National Arbor Day Foundation replaced my orders for 2006 and 2007. All the plants were of good size and in good condition. They arrived the first of December, which is pushing the late button. All were planted promptly. They are beginning to bud out now. Thanks NSDF!
Neutral ladypcer
(5 reviews)
On May 20, 2007, ladypcer Irving, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I ordered a Koosa Dogwood, Lilacs, and a Sugar Maple, along with the 10 free trees, last fall. They sent a free Red Maple.
The Koosa and Lilacs were very small, and the Sugar Maple and Red Maple were about 3 foot whips.
I planted all of them and although the Dogwood, Maples and Lilacs are looking spindly, they are alive and growing, although slowly.
Out of the 10 free trees, only 2 are leafing out, the rest appear to be dead.
Not a big deal about the free trees, and the others didn't cost enough to lose sleep over, but I won't waste any more money on plants from the NAF.

Neutral scully931
(9 reviews)
On May 20, 2007, scully931 Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

On one hand, I feel I should not complain about anything given as 'free.' But, on the other hand, the company's goal is to get more trees planted... I'm assuming they mean LIVE ones. I laughed when I read that people found all ten trees in their mailbox, but I thought they might be exaggerating just a little. They weren't. All ten of mine fit easily into one medium size pot. That was about two months ago. Today I noticed that one of them has one leaf sprouting. The rest look exactly the same as they did two months ago. Yeah... I'm betting they aren't going to be providing much shade this year. ;-)

Neutral SteveIndy
(21 reviews)
On May 19, 2007, SteveIndy Greenwood, IN (Zone 5b) wrote:

I guess I have mixed feelings about this company. Not sure where the .org comes in, as they certainly have the facilities/amenities and corresponding business ventures of any corporation. I was a member for two years (didn't renew this year), being annoyed by the constant ploys to get my money and the incessant mailings asking for it. Looking at their site and what these dues are "paying for" is kind of insulting.

That said, even if the 10 free trees for $10 annual membership fee is nothing more than a clever marketing gimmick, it IS a buck per tree, and you can't really expect a 4 or 5 ft specimen that you'd pay 10 - 20 times or more for elsewhere. The free trees I have grown have done well as a group and I have some 10-20 ft tall nice trees to show for it, which is not a bad return on a few bucks.

I did order some of their "regular" maples (which incidentally are much larger than the "free" ones) that have actually ALL done phenomenally well. Their website also has great information if you're doing research on trees or need help identifying them.

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