Branching out tree program

Increasing Calgary's urban tree canopy with free trees

Trees are an intrinsic part of the quality of life in Calgary. They provide a myriad of environmental benefits. They also contribute to positive mental wellbeing. Trees help us connect with our communities.

Calgary’s tree canopy coverage is currently at 8.25%, this includes trees planted on both public and private property. The City is working to grow and expand our tree canopy coverage to 16%.

You can help through the annual Branching Out program. Trees are provided free of charge by the City of Calgary.

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Branching Out 2024 Program: Registration is now closed


We have started sending confirmation emails to those registered for a tree with information on pick-up times and locations. If you registered for a tree but have not received an email, please check your spam/junk mail folders. 

Thank you, YYC, for partnering with The City of Calgary and providing your land to help grow Calgary’s tree canopy for the benefit of all citizens.

Tree pick-up information

If you have registered for a tree, please pick it up on the date and time outlined in your confirmation email. We will only have a specific number of trees available each day; If you do not come on the date and time specified in your confirmation email, your chosen tree may not be available.

When you come to pick up your tree, please have the first and last name of the person who registered for the tree ready to help us find your information and your tree.

Please note:

  • If you have not registered for a tree, there may still be an opportunity to get a tree. Any trees that do not get picked up by 3 p.m. on the Sunday for each quadrant pick-up will be offered to the public on a first come, first served basis after 3 p.m.
  • Trees are available for pick-up only. We are not able to deliver the trees.
  • Residents must dig holes in the chosen location in their yard and plant trees themselves. See Tree planting tips and the Right Tree, Right Location e-learning module below for reminders on how to plant your tree.
  • To help your tree grow, we provide mulch, compost and a tree watering donut bag.

Pick-up details:

N.E. quadrant pick-up at Whitehorn LRT Station parking lot

  • Saturday, June 1: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree
  • Sunday, June 2: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree)
  • Sunday, June 2: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Any trees not picked up will be offered to the public on a first come, first served basis)

S.E. quadrant pick-up at Douglas Glen LRT Station parking lot

  • Saturday, June 8: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree)
  • Sunday, June 9: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree)
  • Sunday, June 9: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Any trees not picked up will be offered to the public on a first come, first served basis)

N.W. and S.W. quadrant pick-up at Sarcee Depot

  • Saturday, June 15: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree)
  • Sunday, June 16: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Registered applicants may pick up their tree)
  • Sunday, June 16: 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Any trees not picked up will be offered to the public on a first come, first served basis)

Tree planting tips


Tips on how to use mulch, compost and tree watering donut bag when planting your tree:

  1. Dig a hole in the chosen place in your yard; Mix the compost into the soil you’ve removed from the hole.
  2. Put your tree in the hole and add in the soil and compost mixture.
  3. Add mulch away from the trunk around the tree in a donut shape. See Water’s Little Helper: Mulch for more info on how to properly use mulch.
  4. Place your tree watering donut bag around the tree trunk and fill it with water once a week.

Efficient watering tips

Tips on how to efficiently water a newly planted tree:

  • If the soil is wet from recent rain, water is unnecessary for a few days until things dry out. 
  • In the first year, water a newly planted tree 60 - 80L total each week split over 1 - 2 times; in the second year, water 60 - 80L total every 1 - 2 weeks split over 1 - 2 times; in years 3 - 5, water 60 - 80L total every 2 - 4 weeks split over 1 - 2 times. Each time you water, this would look like filling approximately ¼ of a bathtub.
  • Use a watering donut or bag to help keep track of how much you’re watering. Fill donut/bag once a week; once filled, water will slowly drain out into the soil, targeting water to the roots of a tree, reducing water loss due to evaporation and helping to minimize overwatering.
  • Ensure soil drains and becomes fairly dry between waterings to let it breathe with the atmosphere and restore oxygen. Placing mulch directly on top of soil is a great addition to help prevent water waste through evaporation losses and improving soil health.
  • Only water in spring, summer and fall when the ground is not frozen.
  • If there are outdoor water restrictions, prioritize watering trees instead of grass. 

Click here for more information on caring for your trees. 

Click to enlarge image

Tree species


There are a limited number of free trees given away each year and a limited number of species. For more information on trees go to Top Tree Species for Calgary.

Species that will be available for the 2024 Branching Out program are:

Canopy Tree

  • Bur Oak
  • Laurel Leaf Willow
  • Paper Birch
  • Prairie Reflection Willow
  • Trembling Aspen
Flowering Tree
 
  • Gladiator Crab
  • Hot wings Maple
  • Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilac
  • Ming Cherry
  • Royalty Crab
  • Showy Mountain Ash
  • Spring Snow Crab
  • Starlite Crab
  • Thunderchild Crab
Evergreen Conifer Tree
 
  • Limber Pine
  • Mountain Pine

For info on how to plant and care for your tree, visit Citizen Owned Trees at calgary.ca/trees

E-Learning Module


Right Tree, Right Location

Want to plant a tree? Here's where to start: learn about tree types that work for you, choose the right location - and plant it safely in your yard.​

View the quick reference guide.

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Planting Trees During Drought


With the drought dial currently at Advisory stage, it is still important to plant new trees and use efficient watering methods to help get them established, even if outdoor water restrictions are put in place.

Did you know…

  • As hotter temperatures become a seasonal norm, trees provide shade, reduce the heat island effect, and cool our environment through the release of water vapour back into the air reducing temperatures.
  • Additionally, they sequester carbon as they grow and mature, and support Calgary’s biodiversity. A healthy canopy provides many climate-positive benefits including improved air quality, reduced stormwater runoff, and soil erosion prevention. 
  • It takes about 5 years of watering to establish a newly planted tree. On average container trees, which are the type of trees provided for Branching Out, require approximately the equivalent of 1L of water per day over those 5 years. As a comparison, a high-efficiency toilet uses at least 3L of water every flush.
  • ·The water usage for each tree is very low when considering the long-term climate-positive benefits provided by a healthy tree canopy.

Underground Utilities


Remember to 'dial/click before you dig' a hole to plant your tree. A locate request will show you where utilities are located. Contact Utility Safety Partners by phone 1-800-242-3447 or online at utilitysafety.ca.

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