Do-It-Yourself Backyard Tree Planting

Is DIY Right for You?

©2017 Mara McHaffie / LEAF

What's Included

Our program is designed to offer you expert advice and planting services, so you can be confident knowing your trees will be given the best conditions for long-term success.

The program includes:

  • online educational videos
  • 30-minute virtual consultation with a LEAF arborist to select species and planting locations
  • 5 to 8 foot tall native deciduous tree OR 2 to 4 foot tall native evergreen tree
  • delivery (property owner plants)
  • mulch and planting/care guide
  • ongoing advice through seasonal email tips, follow-up visits and answers to tree health and care questions

You pay the subsidized price of only $110 - $180 per tree

Native shrubs also available for $30 each and eastern white cedars are available for $50 each.

If a tree is not purchased, a minimum of four shrubs/cedars must be ordered for free delivery, otherwise, a $25 delivery fee applies.

Note: all prices are per item and do not include applicable taxes.

Watch this two-minute video explanation of our Do-it-Yourself Program

©2017 Mara McHaffie / LEAF

Six Easy Steps

  1. Review our policies and program details to determine if the DIY program is right for you.
  2. Watch our "Assess Your Yard" video which will help you determine your site conditions.
  3. Complete our online application to let us know what you're looking for.
  4. Enjoy your 30-minute virtual consultation with one of our arborists who will assess your property’s soil, sunlight and space conditions using aerial imagery and help you select the best species and planting locations. At the end of the consultation, you make full payment for your trees and shrubs!
  5. Let LEAF deliver your items! We will contact you at least two days prior to your delivery date.
  6. Plant and care for your trees and shrubs and enjoy the benefits of a greener space!

Our Policies

We are dedicated to growing our urban forest by getting the right trees in the right places with the right care. This means that we have some unique policies you should know about:

  • LEAF only provides species native to southern Ontario that suit your site conditions. Species choice may be limited based on your soil type, available sunlight and geographic region. See LEAF's complete Species Offered list.
  • LEAF may limit the number of trees and shrubs we can deliver to your property based on your municipality’s policies, the age of your property and/or the space you have available for planting.
  • LEAF only delivers trees and shrubs through our Do-It-Yourself program. If you wish to have LEAF do the planting in your backyard or fenced-in side yard, please use our Full Service program.
  • LEAF is unable to take scheduling requests for delivery. To maintain the most efficient (and eco-friendly!) delivery routes, we schedule delivery dates based on geographic location. Check out the Delivery tab for more details.
  • LEAF does not consult or deliver to sites where major landscaping or construction is underway or will be underway soon. All major work must be completed prior to your virtual consultation and delivery. Check out the Before We Deliver tab for more details.

Please be sure to read through the Ordering & Cancellation and Our Guarantee, Your Commitment sections below for more detailed policies that apply.

©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

Space Requirements

Trees and shrubs require space below ground for root development and above ground for crown development. We will help you select appropriate species for your property based on the available space.

Your planting site must meet the following minimum space requirements. Please note, more space may be required for larger species:

Site Conditions Shrubs SMALL Trees Med-Large Trees
Area of soft surface required 5' x 5' 10' x 10'  15' x 15'
Distance from fence/property line 3' 5' 5'
Distance from hard surfaces (deck/paving) 3' 5' 7'
Distance from buildings with foundations 3' 10' 10'
Distance from existing trees 8' 15' 20'
Distance from stumps or existing ash trees 8' 8' 8'
Distance from swales 5' 5' 5'
Overhead wires not an issue avoid avoid
Raised beds or container planting not recommended never never

For more information on why these space requirements exist, please click here.

©2015 Kevin Halverson / LEAF

Planting to Fulfill a Tree Removal Permit

While LEAF frequently works with clients who are required to plant a tree as a condition of a tree removal permit, it is important to note that LEAF tree sizes, planting seasons and species offerings may differ from those outlined in those permits. Most permit officers are familiar with the LEAF program, however, we recommend reviewing the following points with them to see if they are willing to make accommodations for trees planted/delivered by LEAF:

Tree Size

Most permits include a required size of tree to be planted, typically measured by caliper, or diameter of the trunk, in millimeters (e.g., 50mm caliper tree). LEAF trees are measured in height, not caliper or trunk diameter, and are typically smaller than most permit requirements. We recommend getting verbal or written approval from your permit officer for this to ensure a tree planted through LEAF will fulfill your permit requirements.


Most permits include a planting deadline. LEAF is unable to take scheduling requests and your planting/delivery date can happen at any point during our planting/delivery season. This typically means anytime between April and June 30th for our spring season and anytime between September and November 30th for our fall season. The LEAF program is first come, first served, so your planting/delivery season will depend on the timing of your consultation and our inventory availability at that time. Therefore, we recommend contacting us well before your permit deadline, as you may need a deadline extension from your permit officer to accommodate your planting/delivery season with LEAF.

Species Requirement

Most permits require a specific tree species (e.g., a sugar maple) to be planted. During your consultation however, LEAF will recommend species that suit your property conditions, which may not match your required planting species. We recommend asking your permit officer for flexibility to allow you to plant a large or medium native shade tree rather than a specific species.

Before we can conduct your consultation, your tree must be removed and permission from permit officers regarding tree size, deadlines and species requirements (as described above) must be confirmed.

Please note: The City of Markham does not accept LEAF trees to fulfill plantings required as a condition of a tree removal permit.

Your Virtual Consultation

Preparing For Your Consultation

If your property meets our minimum space requirements, you can complete our educational videos and online application found at the bottom of this page. Once we receive your application, we will contact you to book your virtual consultation with one of our arborists. The sooner you book your virtual consultation, the wider the selection of trees and shrubs you will have to choose from (our program operates on a first come, first served basis so some species may be limited).

During your virtual consultation, our arborist will talk with you about your available planting space, property conditions and your preferences to help you select the most appropriate species and planting locations. To get the most out of your virtual consultation, here are some things to think about beforehand:

  • What are your reasons for wanting a tree or shrub? Are there specific characteristics you’re looking for?
  • Are there specific characteristics that you do not want your tree or shrub to have?
  • How large do you want your tree or shrub to get? How tall? How wide?
  • Is your yard sunny or shady?
  • Do you have other trees and shrubs on your property and neighbouring properties? Are they full grown or will they get bigger?
  • Is your property in a new development?
  • Will you be doing any renovations or building a deck in the future?

We encourage you to explore our Species Offered list to learn about the native trees and shrubs we have available!

©2017 Natasha Keshavjee / LEAF

During Your Virtual Consultation

Virtual consultations are carried out year-round. The consultation is 30 minutes and will be scheduled during working hours on a weekday. A limited number of evening and weekend appointments are also available. Instructions on how to log-on to the easy-to-use screen-sharing application will be emailed to you prior to your consultation. You’ll need access to a computer and internet connection. During your virtual consultation, your arborist will:

  • Assess your soil, sunlight and available space;
  • Assist you in selecting appropriate species and planting locations;
  • Talk with you about proper care and maintenance for your new trees and shrubs;
  • Request payment;
  • Finalize the siting form that outlines the planting locations in detail, as well as the species selected for each location. The siting form will also act as your receipt.
©2017 Kevin Halverson / LEAF


Your arborist will take payment in full for your order at the end of your virtual consultation. LEAF accepts payment by credit card. Payment must be made in full before delivery occurs.

If for any reason you decide not to purchase a tree at the time of the virtual consultation, there is a $50 (+HST) charge for the virtual consultation. Your virtual consultation is valid for one year, so if you decide to purchase a tree(s) following your virtual consultation, the $50 (+HST) fee will be deducted from the cost of your order, provided no species changes have been made.

If you decide to order only shrubs and/or cedars at the end of your consultation, the cost of these will be in addition to the $50 (+HST) you’ve already paid. The cost of the virtual consultation will only be deducted from your total when you order a tree.

Cancellations and Order Changes

  • After species selections are confirmed and payment is made, any changes to your order must be approved by an arborist and a $20 administrative fee may apply.
  • If you wish to postpone your paid order to a later delivery season, there is a deferral charge of 25% of the cost of the order.
  • If you wish to cancel a paid order, we keep the consultation fee ($50 +HST), as well as 25% of the cost of the remaining order. We will refund the rest using the original payment method.

Planting your Tree

©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

Before We Deliver

Underground Locates

To ensure you know the locations of any buried cables/wires/lines that may be present on your property, we recommend you request locates from utility companies before planting. Examples of these include gas, hydro, street lighting, internet/phone cables, etc. On some occasions, the utility companies may send someone out to visit your property to mark underground utilities. Free utility locates can be requested by property owners through the Ontario One Call website.

Other Preparations

To ensure your property is ready for us, please do the following:

  • Remove any existing stumps, paving or other objects in or near the planting location(s).
  • On your delivery day, we will need access to an outdoor water supply so that we can water your trees and shrubs after delivery. Please ensure that your outdoor tap is accessible and functioning before we arrive. A hose is not necessary.
©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF


Depending on when your order is placed, we will deliver your trees and shrubs in either our spring or fall delivery season. Spring delivery begins in April and continues through to the end of June. Fall delivery begins in September and continues through to the end of November. Your delivery could take place at any point during these three-month periods.

We will notify you two business days prior to your delivery date, but unfortunately cannot provide you with a specific time of day. To maintain efficient delivery routes, we are unable to accommodate any scheduling requests. You do not need to be present/on site on the day of delivery, as long as we have access to your property. This means that any gates must be left unlocked all day.

We will leave your trees and shrubs with mulch in a secure location, and you will receive our Planting and Care Guide via email. Please carefully follow the Planting and Care Guide - you will need to follow the instructions in order for our guarantee to apply.

Trees and shrubs should be planted as soon as possible; however, if you are unable to plant them right away, be sure to water them every day until they are planted as the pots can dry out very quickly!

Our Guarantee, Your Commitment

© 2016 Laura Tipton / LEAF

Our Guarantee

LEAF is committed to growing our urban forest, and by planting with us you agree to join us in that goal – thank you!

We guarantee that, with proper care, trees/shrubs will produce leaves by the first July 15th after planting.

For trees/shrubs planted or delivered in the spring (between April 1-June 30), this means July 15th of the same year, and for trees/shrubs planted or delivered in the fall (between September 1-November 30), this means July 15th of the following year.

Replacement requests made after the July 15th deadline, or when proper care has not been provided, will not be considered. Animal, weather or other damage incurred after planting is not covered.

©2014 Daniel Stummer / LEAF

Your Commitment to Care

Getting the right species in the right place is the first important step to success. Following planting, proper care is essential for your new trees and shrubs to thrive! Therefore, in the first two years after planting, you will need to:

  1. Water your trees and shrubs twice per week using approximately six gallons of water per item each time. That is the equivalent of using three full watering cans twice per week or using a hose with no nozzle on a very slow trickle for approximately 15 minutes twice per week. Avoid using a sprinkler as overhead watering can create favourable environments for fungal disease.
  2. Replenish the wood chip mulch at the base of your trees and shrubs in a donut shape, making sure it does not touch the trunk/stem.
  3. Protect your trees and shrubs from lawn mower, weed-whacker and animal damage - this can be fatal.

Refer to the Tree Care section of our site for more details.

Book Your Virtual Consultation

Ready to get started?

If your property meets our minimum spacing requirements, get ready to complete our online application!

Please note: if you do not own the property, you should have the property owner present for the virtual consultation, or have them sign our Property Owner Permission Form to ensure that delivery/planting has been authorized for the property. The form must be submitted prior to your virtual consultation.

Please watch our short video below to learn more about how to assess your property. After watching the video, you are ready to complete our online application!

Once we receive your application, we will contact you to book your virtual consultation with on of our arborists.

Get started!

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