Tennessee Arboretum Program

Certified Arboreta ListRenew Arboretum Status


To develop  a network of arboreta across Tennessee that are well-maintained, open to the public and proactively utilized  for experiential education about trees and the important role they play in communities.


To have a TUFC certified arboretum that is within a 30-minute drive of every Tennessee community. 

Certification Requirements

Tree Diversity

Identify and label a diverse collection of qualifying tree species


Provide experiential education for the public


Model stewardship practices for a healthy and safe arboretum 


Recertify every three years and seek continual development

  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Distinct Species Labeled 30 - 59 60 - 89 90 - 119 120+
Public Access 🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
Approved Tree List 🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
Approved Application   🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
-- Narrative 🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
-- Governance Plan 🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
-- Education & Outreach Plan 🌳 🌳 🌳
-- Map   🌳 🌳 🌳
Pass Inspection 🌳 🌳 🌳 🌳
Tours Available     🌳 🌳
Edu/Outreach Content       🌳
Certification Fee $175 $250 $350 $450
Recertification Fee $125 $200 $300 $400

Certification Process & Resources

Planning & Preparation

It’s never too early to start planning!  Establishing and maintaining an arboretum is a commitment that requires a collaborative effort and adequate resources.  We encourage you to consider the following during the planning phase:

  • Assess program requirements – which status level is attainable?
  • Build a team of committed partners with capacity for long term continuity
  • Seek out technical assistance for tree identification
  • Explore funding opportunities
  • **Do not order tree labels yet**

Technical Assistance:

Please contact TUFC if you need assistance finding qualified individuals for tree identification and arboreta development advising beyond the listed resources below.  

Tree ID Pocket Guide

TN Urban Foresters Directory

Memphis Botanic Garden Tree Team

Funding Resources:

TAEP Community Tree Planting Grant (Eligible Expenses: shipping of trees, planting, mulch, irrigation devices, tree labels and signage)

  • Application Deadline: June 2, 2023
  • Application Decisions: July 10, 2023
  • Grant Start Date: November 1, 2023
  • Grant End Date: April 30, 2024

Submit your Tree List (June 30th)

The Tree List is your proposed collection of qualifying distinct tree species, listed in the format you plan to use on the labels.  

Submit your completed Tree List Template to [email protected].  We encourage you to reference our Tree Lookup Database when completing the template.

Processing of feedback and approval can take up to four weeks.

A tree with a distinct genus and species name will add one to the arboretum’s tree count. Cultivars of the same genus and species will not count toward its tree total.

Qualifying trees are:

  • listed using appropriate scientific and common names with consistent formatting according to our Tree Species Guidelines;
  • not on the Invasive Species List;
  • 1” caliper or have identifiable traits at the time of inspection;
  • a tree (not a shrub) capable of 15’ mature height.

**Do not order labels until your tree list is approved** 

Submit Application Materials (July 31st)

TUFC will share the digital application form upon approval of your Tree List.

Applications are processed from March – July.  Processing of feedback and approval can take up to four weeks.

Required materials include:

  • Location and contact information
  • Map (required for levels 2 – 4)
  • Approved Tree List
  • A detailed narrative covering:
    • Mission & vision;
    • How it started;
    • Who will benefit;
    • Governance Plan; and
    • Public Education & Outreach Plan.

The inspection will not be scheduled until your application has been submitted and approved.

Pass Inspection (May – September)

Once your application has been approved, schedule your inspection for a date when you will be prepared for inspection.

TUFC will communicate your certification determination or recommendations to meet requirements within two weeks of inspection.

Pre-inspection requirements include:

Refer to the TUFC Arboretum Inspection Form for more details on preparing for inspection.

TUFC cannot guarantee capacity for multiple site visits so please ensure the arboretum is prepared to pass inspection in one attempt.

Finalize Certification

Once you’ve passed inspection, TUFC will issue an invoice for the appropriate fee and order your official Certified Arboretum sign.  Payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date, and additional signs are available at an extra cost.  

TUFC will recognize your arboretum at our annual conference in October, on our website and social media, and in our email newsletter. 

We encourage you to celebrate the occasion with a press release and public event.  We’d love to join!