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How To Plant a Memorial Tree: 9 Simple Steps

While cremation continues to increase in popularity over traditional burial practices, many people are looking for environmentally friendly ways to honor their departed loved ones. How we handle the cremains of those we have lost is a personal choice. Whether we keep the ashes close by in an indoor urn, a special keepsake, or scatter them in a sacred spot, there are countless ways to create an everlasting tribute. One sustainable, eco-friendly practice is to plant a memorial tree to honor a loved one. While it may sound challenging, The Living Urn’s memorial tree planting system makes it quite easy - even for novice gardeners! In this article, we’ll walk you through 9 steps to help you plant your special memorial.

Planting a young tree

What is a Memorial Tree?

Memorial trees are living memorials of our departed loved ones. Also known as sympathy trees, remembrance trees, or living tributes, they can have several meanings. Sometimes, remembrance trees can reference a tree planted to commemorate the memory of a departed loved one in a significant location. It can also signify a tree that serves as a final resting place for the cremated ashes of a loved one. The Living Urn® is a biodegradable urn (also known as a tree pod) specifically designed to be planted with cremated ashes and a young, living tree. The patented The Living Urn® and planting system makes it easy to transform the ashes of your lost loved one into a beautiful living tree memorial.

Why Plant a Memorial Tree for a Loved One?

Planting a memorial tree can offer several attractive benefits for the bereaved.


When you plant a memorial tree, you and your departed loved one become active participants in protecting and enhancing the environment. Depending on the tree species, your special memorial can live for hundreds of years, providing nourishing oxygen, shade, and homes for woodland creatures.

Comfort and Peace

Once your young tree is planted, you’ll be able to enjoy watching it grow and flourish over the years. With their cremated remains infused with your special tree, your loved one is reintroduced to the circle of life. Visiting this sacred spot can help the bereaved feel peace and comfort in their memorial's serene and tranquil environment.


While losing a loved one can be quite challenging, grief-stricken individuals can regain agency in how they respond to the loss. Choosing a specific tree and location and planting and nurturing a living memorial can be empowering for the bereaved. As the years go by, they can find fulfillment as the young tree matures. Future generations will be able to enjoy the splendor of your sacred tribute.

How Do You Have a Tree Planted in Memory of Someone?

Having a tree planted in someone’s memory is very easy! You can simply pick out a young tree at your local garden center and plant it on your property to honor your loved one. If you need help planting, professionals at the garden center can provide guidance. For those who have access to the cremated remains of the departed, a biodegradable urn will be needed to bury the ashes. Some people choose to plant seeds or saplings above the burial spot of the urn; however, growing a tree in this fashion can be very difficult. The best way to infuse the ashes of the departed with a living tree is through The Living Urn’s Planting System. This innovative, one-of-a-kind system comes with a young tree between 2’ and 4’ in height for planting into the bio urn. The robust roots of the young tree have a much greater chance of successfully growing than a seed or sapling. When handling sacred ashes, you want to be sure the memorial tree will work right the first time you try it!

How To Get a Memorial Tree Planted

Planting your memorial tree is easy! Here are 9 steps to getting your memorial tree properly planted.

1. Select Your Bio Urn and Tree

With The Living Urn, you can order the BioUrn® System Only with a tree of your choice or with a tree voucher for later use. Our award-winning nursery has over seventy trees to pick from, narrowed down by zip code to what grows best in your area.

2. Choose a Location

Many families will plant in their backyard, garden, or another meaningful spot on their private property. Others will get permission from the city or private party to plant at a local park, golf course, etc. Another popular choice is a Memory Forest™. A Memory Forest™ is an innovative approach to providing sacred land for memorializing the departed. Instead of elaborate tombstones and cemeteries, there are trees and forests! (If you like, many Memory Forest™ locations offer planting services.)

3. Transfer the Ashes

Whether you’re ready to plant or need some time, you can still transfer the ashes to the BioUrn®. The Living Urn® BioUrn® and Planting System has no expiration and only biodegrades once planted. Simply remove the bamboo case and transfer the cremated remains into the urn. Place the top back on the BioUrn®. (Return the urn to the bamboo casing until you’re ready for the tree.)

4. Add Additives

Once you have your special tree, it’s best to plant it as soon as possible—preferably within a week. At the burial spot, remove the BioUrn® from the bamboo casing. Pour the proprietary RootProtect® additive on top of the cremated remains.

5. Prepare the Spot

The selected site should have the proper shade, sun, space, and soil requirements to support the growth of your tree. Clear any brush or weeds within a three-foot radius of the planting spot. Next, dig a hole at least 12-18” deep.

6. Placing the Tree Urn

Lower the BioUrn® into the hole, so the top of the urn is below the edge. Fill in the rest of the hole with soil dug from the ground. (Your Living Urn Planting System will provide instructions if you need additional help achieving the desired depth).

7. Plant Your Tree

Simply lower the roots of your young tree into the BioUrn® - make sure that the tree is level and that it’s facing the preferred direction.

8. Water Your Tree

Once planted, offer water to welcome your memorial tree to its new home! You only need to ensure the area around the tree is moist; there’s no need to over-saturate it. The moist ground helps oxygen permeate down to the roots.

9. Add Mulch for a Final Touch

Finally, add the starter pack of mulch that came with your Living Urn Planting System. This top layer of mulch will serve as insulation for your young tree. It helps keep moisture in the soil while buffering hot or cold ground temperatures. You can purchase more mulch as needed to cover the three-foot radius of the burial spot. About 2-4 inches deep should be enough.

Explore Memorial Tree Options From The Living Urn

The patented Living Urn® is America's first and leading Bio Urn & Planting System. With over 70 tree and shrub types to choose from, you can use your zip code to narrow down the best tree for your region. If you’re looking for an ideal spot to plant your sacred tribute, we can help! Our exclusive partnerships with leading cemeteries and memorial parks throughout the US allow Memory Forest™ to provide a beautiful way to honor a loved one, give back to nature, and grow a living memory. If you’d like to learn more about our special memory trees and how to care for them, visit our store today!

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