How to Get Homestead Shade Trees For FREE!

by Texas Homesteader ~

I really want a few shade trees in our yard. And serious bonus points are added if I can get those shade trees for FREE, #amiright??!!

After spending way too much money trying to get shade trees that would actually live in our yard, a lightbulb went off. Hummmmmm… What if…

I've been frustrated to buy, plant and lose so many trees since moving here. Come see how I've gotten homestead shade trees for FREE! #TexasHomesteader

Difficult Growing Conditions

Y’all know I’ve planted many trees since moving to our Homestead. They typically struggle the first year & then succumb after the first 12-18 months. 

I kid you not, I’ve lost 18 trees in our BACKYARD ALONE!

That’s lots of money wasted. But dang y’all, I really miss the beautiful canopy of trees I’ve always assured that we enjoyed at each and every home where we’ve ever lived. 

I know it doesn’t make financial sense to keep plunking down money year after year to buy trees & get them planted when they obviously don’t want to live here.

Desperate to find something that would work, I’ve explained our situation to all the nursery specialists and followed their directions every time I planted a new tree. But still, no dice. I was determined not to give up.

Looking For Hardy Shade Trees

Although our property is plenty fertile, the area right around our house? Well I’ve named it ‘The Botanical Hole of Death’.

I struggle to get anything but grass to grow in our yard. Probably because much of the shallow topsoil was moved to build the foundation for our home. So there’s precious little left in the surrounding area to sustain anything but shallow roots in our yard.

Maybe I can find really hardy trees that can grow well even here. I wonder how I find trees that really, REALLY want to live in our yard?

But y’all remember my battle cry?  Use Whatcha Got!

Hardy Tree Located… For FREE!


Then one day I found a small tree seedling growing right next to the foundation of our home and I knew I had to remove it. But I wondered…

This tree obviously really WANTS to live, even in our difficult growing conditions. Why not move it to a location in our yard where I’d actually LIKE for it to grow???

Plus, I reasoned, if I start the tree out this small it may have a greater chance of digging in its roots in our apparently difficult-to-grow soil conditions of our yard where I’d love to have trees. 

So I carefully dug up that tree up and moved it to a place in the yard where I hoped it would grow. I opted to plant it toward the western side of our yard to offer shade during the heat of summer. That would be perfect… IF I can get it to grow.

I think it’s an Lacebark Elm tree, but whatever it is I’d love to have it grow here!

Relocating A Volunteer Seedling

I mulched around it heavily with spoiled hay that they cows had trampled. That mulch kept the soil around my tender tree cooler and conserved the moisture all summer long.

A bunny happily made the top of that seedling his lunch a couple of times. So to protect my little seedling I placed a piece of chicken wire around the tiny seedling so it can’t be snacked on again. Other than the bunny buffet, I’ve been very pleased at how well it’s done! It’s now about 8-feet tall and beautifully shaped. Hopefully soon it’ll actually be large enough to offer shade.

I’m so pleased in the results of that tiny seedling transplant that I’ve since relocated a couple of other volunteer tree seedlings to other places in the yard. I mean why not??!! It hasn’t cost us anything!

Those trees are obviously indigenous to our location since they came up as volunteer plants. And I’m finally hopeful to one day have several trees shading the backyard of our home.


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6 thoughts on “How to Get Homestead Shade Trees For FREE!

  1. Josie O

    Hi TxH, I’m finally moving back to the USA, MS to be exact. Just bought a house on 15 acres and many trees. I’m not sure what they all are, I’ve yet to walk the full area. It even comes with a large 1/2 to 1 acre pond! I can’t believe it. It needs work (the house i mean) and just thinking of the grounds is so overwhelming. Mostly pine I’m sure but nearly an infant waiting for mama gardener to get dug in. I saw many many pine saplings, but I’m contemplating what other trees that I want, fruit, oak, ornamental etc. Its very, very very overwhelming to think about. Can you do any new articles on this topic or highlight some that you’ve already written? THANKS!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      How exciting Josie! I’ve written often about difficulties in getting various fruit trees to grow in our ‘Botanical Hole of Death’ yard. For us the problem is erodible soil and the removal of what little topsoil we had to build the pad for our home years ago. So I lean towards native trees for shade/ornamental, etc. Even as in this post, digging up native saplings that sprouted up in the yard & pastures and relocating them. But every area is different. And every region is different. Sandy or clay soil? Rainfall averages? Temperature averages? Here’s what I’d suggest to you – contact your local extension agent and ask what trees work well in your area. I’ve done that and gone with my local extension agent’s recommendations for successful tree planting – even in our yard! haha. Good luck! ~TxH~

  2. ColleenB.~Texas

    I have learned from years past Not to plant the trees to deep cause they just don’t survive when planted deeply. Was pretty naïve back then but have learned so much over the years through trial and error and talking to a great nursery person who knows something when it comes to planting trees, shrubs, etc. I do hope that you have great success in your young plantings.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yeah I think I experienced something similar years ago too Colleen. And supposedly you’re not supposed to amend the soil when you plant, but that’s an exception here apparently with our shallow topsoil situation. And you typically build a well around the tree when you plant so water can soak in but once again an exception here since plant specialists are telling me it’s possible in our heavy soil that the new trees end up getting too much water. So I’ve been amending around trees with thick layers of spent hay to conserve moisture without too much watering as well as moderate soil temps & increase the soil activity around the trees roots. As the hay decomposes it’s my hope that it will add goodness to the soil too. So far it seems to be working well but, you know, 12-18 months is the timeframe that will tell the tale! ~TxH~

  3. Cecilia

    Good idea! You can come dig up all the seedlings you want at our place! Another way to get trees would be to gather the acorns or seeds and plant them. Good luck and hope they survive because what’s a yard without trees?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m really hoping one day to have the canopy of trees I crave, Cecilia. Fingers crossed! ~TxH~


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