At Home Lessons & Activities

Help Tahoe’s forests by learning about Sugar Pines and planting your own!

Downloadable planting lesson and guide

Grow Your Own Sugar Pine from Seed Lesson

Read our children’s book: The Happiest Tree in the Forest

Watch Our Videos

We have videos for learners of all ages. Lyla’s Gift is perfect for elementary students!

Click here to tune into our YouTube channel to see all of our videos!


Learn About Sugar Pines and How to Plant

Tahoe’s sugar pines are dying from a non-native, invasive fungus. We need help planting fungus-resistant seedlings every spring and fall!  You can get seedlings from us directly through our Shop or at a planting.  Stay up to date with our plans each season through our Calendar and by following us on Facebook!

Become a Citizen Scientist!

Join our Sugar Pine Restoration Monitoring Project on to add your data: where you planted, how many trees you planted, if and when you watered, and the number of surviving seedlings you count on each visit over the years!  Upload photos of your seedlings and rephotograph them thriving. You can download apps for iPhone and Android phones to make data recording quick and easy!

Seedling Care and Watering

Hopefully you have become a Citizen Scientist and joined our Sugar Pine Restoration Monitoring Project on!  Whether you’re a Citizen Scientist or not, caring for your seedlings is critical to their success!  Read the Seedling Care Instructions for best results with your seedlings.

Take Photos!

Citizen Scientists can upload photos of their seedlings growing and thriving through our Sugar Pine Restoration Monitoring Project on All are welcome and encouraged to share seedling photos with us by emailing or by posting and tagging photos on social media.

Use #spf2020 on all trees planted this year. If it is not 2020 then #spf2021, #spf2022, etc …

Planting Instructions

  • WHERE TO PLANT? – Forest openings where the tree will have plenty of light and space to grow. Beneath a mature tree is not a good idea.
    • Pro Tip: Micro habitats by a log, rock or a nurse plant are ideal!
  • Before digging, REMOVE ALL THE “DUFF” – pine needles or other decomposing forest litter that is on top of the soil. Scrape duff off to the side until you have bare mineral soil.
    • Pro Tip: “Duff is the stuff that makes trees grow tuff.” Keep it nearby to use it later as mulch around your newly planted tree.
  • DIG A HOLE – as deep as your shovel spade is long, about 8-10’’ deep. If you are encountering rocks or having an unusually hard time, try a different spot.
    • Pro Tip: Don’t toss your good soil away as you’re digging. It is best to place it beside your hole so that you can quickly and easily refill the hole with this native soil.
  • PLACE YOUR TREE in the hole – keep the roots straight up and down!  NO J ROOTS.
    • Pro Tip: Make sure the hole is deep enough that all of the roots are at least 1 inch beneath the level of the ground. Dig a deeper hole if necessary!
  • Refill the hole with SOIL. Do not refill with duff, pine needles, rocks or other debris.  Sometimes some small rocks and pine needles will sneak in – that’s ok.  
    • Pro Tip: It is better to “mine” soil from nearby to properly refill your hole with soil if you have to. Try not to leave craters behind by refilling as you can.
  • COVER ALL OF THE ROOTS WITH SOIL. It is very important that ALL of the delicate little white roots are covered with soil. Take your time and pay attention to do it right.
  • Do the “TREE DANCE” – Carefully “dance” around your tree, packing the soil around the roots. You can also pack the soil with your hands as you refill, but the tree dance is easier and more fun. Packing the soil is important so the roots don’t dry out.
    • Pro Tip: Kids are the perfect size and weight for tree dancing. Also this works great for adults as long as you step carefully.
  • Do the TUG TEST.  Gently but firmly pull on the stem of your tree to make sure it does not easily come out. If it comes out then you must start over and replant if necessary.
  • MULCH with all of the DUFF you initially removed. Covering the bare soil with 1-2” of duff prevents the soil from drying out. It works just like mulch in your garden.
  • BUILD A TREE SHRINE. Surround your tree with pine cones, rocks, sticks and whatever else you have available. This makes it easier to find on future watering missions. 
  • WATER your newly planted seedling. It is not necessary, but it does help.
  • PLANT AGAIN – Walk 10 ft in any direction and plant again. It’s a good idea to concentrate your trees so they are easier to find on later watering missions.
Scroll to Top