How To Get A Tree

To grow healthy trees, it’s important to choose high quality trees from the start. They will grow into healthy trees if planted with good root systems, strong form, and no evidence of pests or wounds.

Trees in 5-gallon containers are recommended (instead of 15-gallon or larger sizes), as trees in small containers adjust much better to their “new home” site than trees than have grown longer in containers at the nursery. Trees in 5-gallon size are also easier to transport and plant, as a smaller hole needs to be dug!

Here in San Diego, we offer three options for high quality trees: via Kate Sessions Commitment, through the City of San Diego, and from respected local experts including nurseries, growers, and private plant sales.

The Kate Sessions Commitment “Healthy Trees for Healthy Neighborhoods” program offers high quality nursery trees that are relatively easy to grow in San Diego.  Certified arborists have been working with local wholesale nurseries and have reserved ornamental, native trees, and fruit trees to receive the Kate Sessions Commitment logo as an indication of meeting quality standards.

Healthy Five-gallon trees to plant

The following retail nurseries have carried locally-suitable 5-gallon trees over the past two years, and we are working with them to offer trees in late 2022 for purchase (or pick up, if requested and approved). Most 5-gallon trees are priced from $29 to $50. Native trees can be ordered directly from MoosaCreek Nursery and picked up from a cooperating local nursery.

Walter Andersen Nursery offers quality certified ornamental shade and native trees at their Old Town San Diego location on 3642 Enterprise St. Look for the Kate Sessions Commitment sign and display of 5-gallon trees. Questions? Check on availability of a specific tree? call Walter Andersen Nursery San Diego at 619-224-8271.

Mission Hills Nursery offers a wide array of Kate Sessions Commitment trees and shrubs in 1, 5 and 15-gallon sizes. Located in Mission Hills at 1525 Fort Stockton Drive, this nursery is the oldest one in San Diego and fun fact – was founded by Kate Sessions in 1910! Open from 8 to 5, 7 days a week. For further information, call them at 619.295.2808.

City Farmers Nursery at 3110 Euclid Avenue has served San Diego since 1972, and offers high quality fruit trees and some ornamental shade trees. Call 619-284-6358 for availability and curbside pickup.

Kate Sessions Commitment trees for underserved neighborhoods

Donate now to Kate Sessions Commitment, and we will provide a healthy tree for a historically underserved community in San Diego, creating shade, clean air, and support for outdoor activities.

We are currently selecting neighborhood community groups, town councils, houses of worship, and at-home preschools to receive these donated trees and be responsible for ongoing care. Please contact us if you would like to champion your neighborhood for our donation program.

Request street trees via City of San Diego

Participate in the City of San Diego’s tree planting efforts! Through Free Tree SD, residents can request a new street tree in the parkway or easement of their property, planted from 15-gallon containers. Residents need to sign a watering agreement. This program allows residents and the City to work together by increasing San Diego’s tree canopy cover, creating a more livable and sustainable community for all.

If you want to purchase and plant a tree in your street easement, a permit has to be requested and approval given by the city. Follow instructions for getting a No-fee permit.

Request trees from San Diego Gas & Electric

On April 29, 2022, SDG&E launched a new program qualifying residential customers to plant trees to help provide direct environmental, health, and economic benefits. Qualified customers (residing in specified zip codes) receive a $35 rebate for planting or potting 1- or 5-gallon tree/plant species, up to five (5) rebates annually. More info at sdge.com/tree-rebate.

SDG&E has also pledged to plant 10,000 trees annually in their service area (mostly San Diego County). Get more info and a list of regionally-friendly, utility-friendly, native and fruit trees. This program is best suited for larger properties, such as those in East County, not individual small urban properties. Sign up to request trees and get on the wait list.

Trees from local nurseries, growers and private plant sales

Trees can also be purchased directly from local nurseries and plant sales.  They are generally sold in 5-gallon and 15-gallon container sizes. Trees should be inspected for nursery standards, and not accepted if they have circling roots, roots filling the entire container, or trunk form that cannot be corrected by light pruning. 

Kate Sessions Commitment recommends the following local nurseries:

In addition to these local nurseries, private tree sales from respected organizations are also available at certain times of the year or by appointment. Visit the following websites for details and contact information:

While large hardware store chains may include trees in their garden departments, they generally have limited selection and uncertain local suitability.  Low quality trees (with poor form and root structure) of any size often develop problems that require extensive maintenance and reduce the tree benefits, and they may even die within a few years.

A few nurseries promote the planting of “giant” or “huge” trees. Those trees have been growing in “boxes,” have constricted root systems and large canopies that cannot be supplied with sufficient water and nutrients from the stunted roots.

For more information about how to select a healthy tree, we recommend the International Society of Arboriculture guide to help you find a quality tree.