Pine Knot News - A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

B&B Market Catering & Quality Meats. On top of Big Lake Hill in Cloquet.

Plant a free tree and make the world a better place

Get your free tree seedlings at these area businesses


May 21, 2021

Mark Westphal

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. So why not grab some free tree seedlings and start changing the world, one tiny green growing thing at a time?

Check the bottom of this story for a list of area businesses and organizations that are giving away what will be a total of 10,000 free pine and spruce tree seedlings beginning today, in partnership with the Pine Knot News and Sappi.

Sappi's Chris Marland said it's a way of giving back to the community.

It's also a celebration - of Sappi's multiple awards for being one of the most sustainable paper mills in the world, and of the Pine Knot News being declared Minnesota's most outstanding weekly newspaper this year. And it's a belated celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day on a date that's warmer and more conducive to planting trees in the region.

Choose carefully

Before grabbing your trees, consider where they will be planted, and choose your tree or trees accordingly. The tree giveaway features an assortment of conifers: red pine, black spruce and jack pine.

Black spruce is used primarily for pulpwood but makes a good Christmas tree too. Moderately long-lived, it can attain a height of 30 to 50 feet. It is found growing naturally in organic peat soil but also grows well on fertile, upland sites. Black spruce can blow over in high winds because of its shallow root system. Often used for pulp or Christmas trees, black spruce can grow as high as 30 to 50 feet tall.

Red pine, or Norway pine trees, is the state tree of Minnesota. The red pine is used for timber production, windbreaks and Christmas trees. Long-lived, it can attain a height of 100 feet. Found on a wide variety of sites, the red pine prefers areas exposed to full sunlight and having moist, well-drained soil. It grows very rapidly after transplanting and has relatively few pests.

Jack pine is a good tree for timber and wildlife habitat in northern Minnesota. A pioneering tree on disturbed sites, it is generally a short-lived tree, 50 to 70 years. On good sites it will attain a height of 70 feet. Jack pine requires full sunlight and does best on dry, sandy soils. It grows rapidly but is not used for field windbreaks.

Cloquet Forestry Center forest researcher Lane Johnson recommends planting a group of five or 10 trees if they have the space, and monitoring the trees over time. Trees that are struggling may have to be thinned out.

"Kind of continue that relationship with the group-planting to make sure that these young trees get through that regeneration bottleneck," he said. That can be in the first year or in five years, especially if there are issues with too little or too much water. "It's common practice to go in and brush around seedlings you want to keep for competition control, so you don't have brush or other things like aspen growing or topping a pine tree."

Take care

Seedlings must be handled with care before planting. The roots must be kept moist, either by restricting water loss with a water vapor barrier or by adding water to the roots at regular intervals, otherwise the finer root hairs can be damaged or even die. Complete submersion in water is also to be avoided. Handle carefully and keep the roots moist until you put them directly into a moist planting hole. Moisture is key. Even a few minutes of exposure to a light breeze on a sunny day can kill the roots (and the seedling).

Before planting, remove the turf or sod from the area. Use a spade, shovel, or planting bar to create an opening in the soil appropriate to the size of the tree plug. Insert the plug into the opening with the top of the soil plug level with the adjacent ground surface.

Use your planting tool to pinch the soil opening shut around the tree plug so that the roots have complete contact with the soil, and there are no large air pockets.

If practical, water the tree to settle and moisten the soil. Tug lightly on the tree once planted. If it comes out of the hole easily, pack the soil more firmly. If available, pile some dried leaves around the hole. Control vegetation for a distance of 3 feet around the tree.


For a month, water newly planted trees often enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. After a month water weekly in the absence of rain. Once established, pine trees need water only during prolonged dry spells. Long-term, remove overtopping vegetation on an annual basis and protect the plantings from mowers and foot traffic.

Want more information? For a visual of tree seedling planting techniques watch this online video at by the MN DNR and UMN Department of Forest Resources.


While 10,000 trees is a drop in the bucket in an area that still features a lot of forests, trees both beautify and benefit the environment and the world at large. They reduce carbon dioxide and give us oxygen, provide shade and wildlife habitat, and much more.

According to research, time spent in the woods helps reduce stress. According to author Nelson Henderson, it may even make people a little less selfish. "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."

Get your free trees here

Pick up your free tree seedlings at any of the following participating businesses and organizations while they last


Arrowhead Transit

Ride the bus

B&B Market Catering & Quality Meats

506 Big Lake Road

Bergquist Gifts & Imports

1412 Hwy 33 S.

Burger's Shoes

1609 Carlton Ave.

Buskala's Jewelry

1010 Cloquet Ave.

Carmen's Bar & Restaurant

1410 Prospect Ave. W.

Cloquet Ford Chrysler Center

701 Washington Ave.

Cloquet Forestry Center

175 University Road

Cloquet Public Library

320 14th St.

Encore Performing Arts Center

County Seat Theater

2035 Frontage Road

Daugherty Appliance & Sleep Center

1114 Cloquet Ave.

Exhaust Pros

104 Cloquet Ave.

Gordy's Hi-Hat

415 Sunnyside Drive

Mainstream Boutique

1306 Cloquet Ave.

Northern Printery

206 Ave. C

Pine Knot News

122 Ave. C

Queen of Peace School

102 4th St.

RE/MAX of Cloquet

35 14th St.

Regional Realty

1219 14th St. Ste B

Skutevik's Floral

305 Broadway St.

Outdoor Advantage

1302 Hwy 33 S.

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

64 L'Jack Road

United Way of Carlton County

807 Cloquet Ave. Ste 8

Warming House

411 Sunnyside Dr.

Wilderness Hockey

Northwoods Credit Union Arena

1102 Olympic Drive

7:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 25

and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 26

Northwoods Radio

1104 Cloquet Ave.


Carlton SWCD

808 3rd St.

Carlton Meat & Grocery

500 3rd St.

Harold's Service

309 3rd St.

Magnolia Café

206 3rd St.

Petersen's Door Service

2423 Hay Lake Road


Edward Jones – Kory Dedrick

3 E. Hwy 61, Suite 2

Esko Liquors

54 Thomson Road

Mike's Cafe & Pizzeria

3 East Hwy 61

St. Matthews Lutheran Preschool

4 Elizabeth Ave.


Alpine Bar

1308 Commonwealth Ave.

Jana Peterson

Once a tree seedling is properly positioned in the hole, pack the soil in gently around it to remove air pockets.

Tortoise & Hare Footwear

4002 Grand Ave.


2626 Courtland St.


Oliver Tavern

2148 E. Union St., Oliver


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2021