Do-It-Yourself Backyard Tree Planting

Is DIY Right for You?

©2017 Mara McHaffie / LEAF

What's Included

  • online educational videos

  • 30-minute virtual consultation with a LEAF arborist

  • 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

  • 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.

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

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 soil type, light conditions and how much space you have available in your yard.
  3. Complete our online application to let us know what you're looking for. Once we receive your application our staff will give you a call to book your virtual consultation!
  4. Enjoy your 30-minute virtual consultation with one of our arborists.  All you need is a computer with internet access and a telephone. During your consultation, we will use aerial imagery, ask you about your preferences and help you select appropriate species for your yard. At the end of the consultation, you will purchase your trees and shrubs!
  5. Wait for your plants to arrive. Your trees and shrubs will be delivered at some point during our spring delivery window - April to June - or fall delivery window - September to November. We will contact you at least two days in advance to let you know when we will be coming by, but you do not need to be home for your delivery, as long as we can access your backyard all day.
  6. Plant and care for your new trees and shrubs and enjoy the benefits of a greener backyard!

Our Policies

Our program is subsidized by our partners and we are dedicated to growing our urban forest by getting the right trees in optimum planting locations.  That means that we have some unique policies you should know about:

  • LEAF only offers species native to Ontario - species that evolved here as opposed to those brought by humans from other areas.
  • The number of trees and shrubs we can deliver to your yard may be limited, based on your municipality, the age of your home and the space you have available for planting. 
  • We only deliver trees and shrubs through our Do-It-Yourself program. If you wish to have species planted in your backyard, please use our Full Service program. 
  • In order to maintain the most efficient (and eco-friendly!) delivery routes, we must schedule delivery dates based on location. We regret that we are unable to accommodate specific scheduling requests. We provide two business days' notice before coming.
  • We will provide only trees and shrubs that suit your yard conditions. Species choice may be limited based on your soil type, available sunlight and geographic region. 
  • We do not deliver to yards where major landscaping or construction is underway or will be underway in the near future, as this may damage new trees and shrubs.
  • 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. Buildings, decks and paving can interfere with a tree or shrub's ability to absorb nutrients and water. Cramped space, compacted soil, overhead wires and competition with other plants can stress them further and leave them susceptible to pests and disease. We will help you select appropriate species for your property based on the available space, rather than trying to fit in species that do not suit your property conditions.  

The planting site you have in mind must meet the following minimum space requirements:

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.

Please note

The distances listed above are minimum requirements - more space may be required for larger species.


©2015 Kevin Halverson / LEAF

Planting to Fulfill a Tree Removal Permit

LEAF frequently works with clients who are required to plant a tree as a condition of a tree removal permit. Bylaws vary by municipality, so be sure to check the requirements in your area before removing any tree, and check with your permit officer to make sure that a tree planted/delivered by LEAF will fulfill the terms of your permit. Be sure to ask about:

Tree Size 

Most municipalities require a certain size of young tree (measured by caliper, or diameter of the trunk in millimeters). LEAF’s trees are usually smaller than this requirement. We recommend getting verbal approval from your permit officer for this to ensure a tree planted through LEAF will fulfill your permit requirements.


LEAF plants/delivers during spring from April through June and in fall from September through November.  We are unable to provide you with a specific planting/delivery date and depending on the timing of your consultation, we may be sold out of some species for the current planting/delivery season. We recommend contacting us well before your permit deadline.  If you are contacting us close to your deadline, you will need to ask your permit officer for an extension to the end of the planting/delivery season following your consultation (for example, if you book a consultation for May, you should request that your deadline be extended to November 30th; if you book a consultation for October, you should request that your deadline be extended to June 30th of the following year).

Species Requirement

LEAF will recommend species based on the conditions in your property.  Therefore, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to plant/deliver a specific species prior to your consultation. We suggest asking your permit officer to allow you to plant a large or medium native shade tree rather than require a specific species.

Most permit officers in our service regions are familiar with our program and may be willing to make these accommodations for trees planted/delivered by LEAF.

Please note: Confirmations from permit officers regarding size, deadlines and species requirements (as described above) must be confirmed and your old tree removed BEFORE we can conduct your consultation.

Your Virtual Consultation

Preparing for Your Consultation

If your yard 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). You will need to be available for a 30-minute window during working hours on a weekday, with access to a phone and a computer with internet.  A limited number of evening and weekend appointments are also available.

During your virtual consultation, our arborist will talk with you about your yard conditions as well as your preferences to help you select the most appropriate species and planting locations.  In order to get the most out of your virtual consultation, here are some things to think 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 house in a new development?
  • Will you be doing any renovations or building a deck in the future?
  • Are you interested in ordering native garden kits, cedars or pawpaw trees? 

It is essential to ensure your yard meets our minimum space requirements for trees before booking a virtual consultation.

©2017 Natasha Keshavjee / LEAF

During Your Consultation

Virtual consultations are carried out year round. You will be given a 30-minute window for your virtual consultation. A LEAF arborist will call you at your scheduled time using the phone number you provide us in your application form. Instructions on how to log-on to the easy-to-use screen-sharing application will be emailed to you prior to your consultation. During your virtual consultation, your arborist will:

  • Go over your soil type, sunlight conditions, space available and any other features in your yard or neighbouring yards that may affect the growth of your trees and shrubs (e.g., other trees, overhead utility lines, paving and structures);
  • Assist you in selecting appropriate species and planting locations in your yard;
  • Talk with you about proper care and maintenance for your new trees and shrubs;
  • Request full payment for your order by credit card;
  • Complete a 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.

If you do not own the property you should have the property owner present for the virtual consultation, or provide a letter of permission signed by the property owner.  It must be printed, signed and returned to LEAF by email or post prior to your virtual consultation.

©2016 Brenna Anstett / LEAF

Tree Species

LEAF offers a variety of tree species native to southern Ontario. Availability may vary seasonally.  Please note that not all species will be suitable for the sun, soil and space conditions of your property.  We'll help you choose species that will do best in your conditions.

Evergreen Trees

Canadian hemlock

white pine

eastern white cedar

white spruce

Deciduous Trees

American Elm

pagoda dogwood


paper birch

black cherry

pin cherry

black maple

red maple

black walnut

red oak

blue beech


bur oak

silver maple

Freeman maple

sugar maple


swamp white oak

honey locust




Kentucky coffeetree

trembling aspen

Ohio buckeye

tulip tree


©2017 Kevin Halverson / LEAF


Your arborist will take payment in full for your order at the end of your consultation. LEAF accepts payment by credit card.

If for any reason you decide not to purchase a tree at the time of the consultation, there is a $50 (+HST) charge for the consultation.  Your virtual consultation is valid for the current planting season, so if you make the decision to purchase a tree following your virtual consultation, the $56.50 you have paid 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, you must pay the $56.50 consultation fee PLUS the cost of your shrubs and/or cedars.  The cost of the virtual consultation is included only 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 planting/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 ($56.50), 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 on your property, we recommend you contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 to request an underground utility check before planting. On some occasions, the utility companies may send someone out to visit your property to mark these lines.


Other Preparations

We ask you to do the following in order to ensure your yard is ready for us to deliver:

  • Complete any landscaping or construction work by March 31st for spring deliveries, or by August 31st for fall deliveries. We do not deliver to yards where landscaping or construction is underway or will be underway in the near future, as this may damage a new tree or shrub;
  • On the day we come to deliver, we will need access to an outdoor water supply so that we can water your trees and shrubs. Please ensure that your outdoor tap is accessible and functioning before we arrive. A hose is not necessary.
©2017 Brenna Anstett / LEAF


Once you have paid for your order in full, 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. In order to maintain efficient delivery routes, we are unable to accommodate any scheduling requests. You do not need to be home on the day of delivery, as long as we have access to your backyard. This means that any gates must be left unlocked all day.

We will deliver your trees and shrubs with mulch, and you will receive our Planting and Care Guide via email. If you are unable to plant your items right away be sure to water them every day until they are planted because the pots can dry out quickly. Please be sure to read through and carefully follow the Planting and Care Guide - you will need to follow the instructions in order for our guarantee to apply. If you do not receive the Planting and Care Guide, please contact us and we will ensure you receive one.

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, as long as proper care instructions are followed, trees/shrubs will produce leaves by the first July 15th after planting. 

    Trees/shrubs planted or delivered in spring (between April 1-June 30): If your tree does not produce leaves by July 15th of that same year, you must contact us by that same date in order to be considered for a replacement. 

    Trees/shrubs planted or delivered in fall (between Sept 1- Nov 30): If your tree does not produce leaves by July 15th of the following year, you must contact us by that same date in order to be considered for a replacement. 

    Please note: LEAF will not consider replacing plants when concerns are received after this deadline, or when proper care, including twice-weekly watering, has not been provided. Animal damage, weather damage or other damage that occurs to your tree after planting is not covered.

    ©2014 Daniel Stummer / LEAF

    Your Commitment to Care

    Getting the right tree in the right place is the first important step to success.  However, with proper care, provided regularly by diligent property owners, we know that our trees will thrive. You play the most important role in growing our urban forest - ensuring the trees and shrubs you've planted are watered and protected!

    For the first two years after planting, you will need to:

    1. Water your trees and shrubs twice per week using approximately 6 gallons of water each time. That is the equivalent of using 3 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.

    2. Replenish the wood chip mulch at the base of your trees and shrubs as it decomposes, being careful to ensure it's in a donut shape and not touching the trunk/stem.

    3. Protect your trees and shrubs from lawn mower and weed-whacker damage - this can be fatal.

    4. Avoid using chemical fertilizers or pesticides in your yard - these can damage young trees and shrubs.

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


    Your Tree's Growth

    The biggest factor in your tree or shrub's growth is the care it receives! Different tree and shrub species grow at different rates, but you can get the best out of any tree or shrub by watering regularly and replenishing mulch as it decomposes. For the first two years after planting, your tree or shrub will likely focus most of its energy below ground establishing a strong root system, so don’t be discouraged if it looks like not much is happening! If you continue to provide regular water and mulch, you’ll be rewarded in time!  We're always amazed at how quickly our trees or shrubs grow once they are established. 


    ©2015 LEAF

    Maintenance and Pruning

    The right start in life is crucial for your newly planted tree. Leave the hard work to us! Get your LEAF tree on the right track with our maintenance package.

    Maintenance and Pruning

    Book Your Virtual Consultation

    Ready to get your tree?

    First, assess your yard! Please view the short video below to learn more about how to properly assess your backyard. Once you have watched the video you can move on to the application.

    We encourage you to submit your application now so that you are in the queue.  But please be aware that it will take us longer than normal to respond, as demand is high at this time.

    Get started!


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