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Shakopee resident plants over 8,000 trees

They say the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, and no one’s taken that notion to heart more than Shakopee resident, Al Perry, who estimates that over the last thirty-four years he’s planted between eight and ten thousand trees across 14 acres of land in Jackson Township.

Al and his wife Mary Beth moved to their Shakopee home in the Jackson township in 1987 and initiated their landscaping by planting one spruce tree at the entrance of their driveway. In 1988, Al purchased a bundle of trees from the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) annual tree sale, and the rest is history. The Perrys have been purchasing trees annually from the Scott SWCD other local vendors ever since.

“We get around 200 trees a year, on average. Some orders have been over 500, some as little as 100 but we’re always adding to our collection,” Al comments. Each tree is intentionally placed, hand dug, watered, and cared for from the start. Every year, he waits eagerly for the email from the SWCD letting him know the tree sale is live.

Creating the landscape

Every tree pictured in this article was planted by the Perrys

The Perry’s land started off as alfalfa fields, and over those thirty-four years, Al has completely transformed his home and surrounding properties into a forested paradise. A wide variety of Minnesota native trees, including spruce, maples, oaks, birch, willows, and many more, expand over his acres. Al says these trees have provided numerous benefits to his land, including added biodiversity, increased wildlife, improved soil infiltration, protection from wind, and added privacy from the road.

“The birds we see are just amazing,” he adds.

Al says intensive planning is not necessary when it comes to how or where he plants his trees, but he does offer this strategy: “Always look up before planting. And by extension, always think long-term when you’re talking trees. You have to plan for beyond your lifetime.”

When planting, he also leaves enough space in between trees to give them room to breathe as they grow. He makes natural landscaping a priority. The Perrys plant trees with the contours and curves of their landscape rather than sticking with straight lines or rigid patterns. That strategy allows for a cohesive and picturesque finish reminiscent of the best maintained Minnesota state forests.

For those who have never planted a tree before in their life, Al has some wise advice. He recommends people start planting something common, durable, and beautiful: an oak! With so many native varieties, oaks make for an excellent beginner species. They can be planted most anywhere, and they do well both against drought and intensive rain. Oaks pop beautifully red and orange in the fall and can add value to your property with their shape and easy maintenance.

In addition to the thousands of trees Al has planted by hand, he’s also taken great lengths to remove all buckthorn from his acerage. This intensive feat involves multiple years of treatment and clearing of the pesky invasive bush. So far Al has removed all invasive buckthorn from his homestead and is well on his way to complete removal on his neighboring property.

If you are looking for ways to remove buckthorn on your own land, the Scott SWCD rents out buckthorn wrenches for free with a $50 refundable deposit. Visit or call 952-492-5425 to request a rental.

Reflections to the future

When asked what drives him to plant so many trees, Al elaborates, “Once we got some trees established, it all took off from there. I never intended it to be such an endeavor, but it’s turned into a true passion. We love the beauty, we love the wildlife, and we love protecting the land.”

As parting words, Al encourages people to “think of the value of trees and what they provide to us and to our future generations. It’s easy and important to incorporate them into our everyday spaces. And when we protect them, they’ll return the favor.”

The Perry’s have no plans to stop planting trees anytime soon and are excited to continue watching their land transform.

“I might be getting older, but planting trees never gets old for me,” Al says.

Plant trees from the Scott SWCD

If you’re feeling inspired to plant some trees of your own, the Scott SWCD’s 2023 tree sale is live!

Check out to see the latest available inventory and to place an order. Varieties of conifers, deciduous trees, and deciduous shrubs are available until supplies run out. In addition to offering tree bundles, the Scott SWCD offers a variety of tree-planting products including tree spades, mats, marking flags and protective tubes.

All trees will be available for pickup ONLY. Orders will not be shipped to your house.

WHEN | Friday, April 28th from 8:00 am - 6:30 pm

WHERE | Scott County Fairgrounds 7151 W 190th St Jordan, MN 55352

For additional information regarding this year’s sale, or for other inquiries, call the Scott SWCD office at (952) 492-5425, or send an e-mail to


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