Growing Free Trees in Pots for the Patio and Deck





Find a small Volunteer Tree* in your yard.  The best size to transplant is 3”-5” tall. 

This is a Maple that’s probably a bit too big.  I’d like this one to grow where it is, so I am going to flag it to make sure we don’t accidentally cut it down or spray dangerous chemicals on it.


* vol-un-teer  tree   noun : a tree, not planted by human hands, that begins to grow on residential or commercial property.





Pull or dig the tree up, keeping the roots intact.  This is best done after a good rain or watering

This is an Oak.  I love that the acorn is still part of the tree; it’s a really neat thing to share with the kids.

This was growing in the flower garden.  It easily pulled up because the entire root was growing in the mulch.







Transplant the tree to a small pot and place in a sunny spot.  Water immediately after potting and ensure continued, adequate watering.

You can leave these trees out all year long.  When they are little, make sure they are kept some place protected.  I put mine close to the house. And, be sure to water year-round.  During the Winter months, I water about every 6-8 weeks, depending on weather conditions.

I reuse old pots that other flowers have come in.  Plastic works well, as you will be transplanting him.






As the tree grows, continue to transplant to larger pots.

This Maple was a volunteer.  This picture was taken in 2010.

It’s also a good idea to give the trees some fertilizer now and then. 









The tree will continue to grow.

This is the same Maple pictured above just one year later.  I do start to trim up the lower branches as the tree continues to grow.









And it will continue to grow! 

This is a Maple that is nearly 7’ tall and was planted 6-7 years ago. 

Next year I may need to put him in an even larger pot or transplant him into the ground.

You can also do this with trees and shrubs you get at the store or nursery.  Immediate impact for your patio and deck that will last for years.


  1. Oh my....
    you are just like my new neighbor! She can grow anything just like you! Great job!
    dee dee

  2. As many whiligigs as I get from my big old maple trees, there's not enough pots in the world for the resulting volunteer trees.