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Spread the holiday spirit with Adopt A Tree

December 3, 2012 -  By

Jody ShilanThe holiday season is a wonderful time for all of us to remind ourselves to be thankful for what we have, while thinking about how we can help others. I’d like to share with you an idea that’s not just good will, but good karma and great publicity.

I call it Adopt A Tree, and it’s something I’m very passionate about. I conceived the idea about 15 years ago but only started implementing in 2004. I’ve had wonderful success with it and now you can, too. The cost is so little, the benefits are so huge and it’s a perfect fit for the landscape industry. Every landscape contractor has the employees, the equipment and the relationships to make this happen with very little effort and just a few phone calls.

All I ask is that you do it this year. Here we go.

Every holiday season, nurseries, garden centers, churches and pretty much all open parking lots have Christmas trees for sale. It’s a good business for many, a fundraiser for some and a convenience factor for others. You may not realize that two or three days before Christmas, around Dec. 22, these places close up shop and stop selling trees. Often, the unsold trees are put into the chipper, turning perfectly good Christmas trees into wood chips.

No matter where you live, there are also so many families that would love to have a Christmas tree but just cannot afford to buy one (let alone get it home). So here’s the deal: Before the chippers start cranking up, contact your local Christmas tree sellers and ask them if you can have their leftover or unwanted trees when they shut down for the season. They may look at you like you have two heads, but that’s OK.  After you explain what you’re trying to do, they’ll understand immediately.

Once you’ve found suppliers willing to donate their extra trees, you need to find the people who you can donate them to.  A great place to start is with churches, shelters or any of the dozens of donation services that currently exist and would be willing to help.

All that’s left to do is bring the trees and the people together. The best way that I can think of doing that is with pickup trucks, rack trucks, mason dumps and box trucks. You know, the types of vehicles that every landscape contractor owns.

To make things even easier and to help you promote Adopt A Tree, I’ve created a press release template (see below) that you can download for free. Besides just being “the right thing to do,” this is a tremendous public relations opportunity for you, your company and the vendors that donate the trees to you. This is the type of human interest story that magazines, newspapers and television stations love to feature, especially during the holidays. There may even be charitable tax benefits associated with this program (please consult with your tax advisor).

This year, take this idea and run with it. It’s a great opportunity to help a family in need to Adopt A Tree for the holidays.

Press release download instructions:

1. Click here to download the Adopt A Tree Press Release.

2. Save it to your computer.

3. Edit the information in blue to reflect your company’s details. Consider including additional quotes from your company.

4. Make sure to include the names of the vendors who donated the trees and let them know they’re part of the promotion.

5. Contact your local newspaper editors, magazine editors and TV stations and send them the press release. Take photos and send those, as well.

Shilan, a Landscape Management columnist, is editor of He’s also executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. Contact him at

About the Author:

Jody Shilan is a landscape design/build sales consultant, editor of and former executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. Reach him at 201-783-2844 or

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