Lawn & Garden

Plant a Tree

Trees work long and hard to benefit the environment.

Trees, especially large trees, offer a long list of benefits besides their natural beauty. They help clean air and water; take up stormwater; reduce erosion; provide wildlife habitat; filter carbon dioxide out of the air; serve as windbreaks; and provide shade for buildings, driveways, and outside air conditioners and air-source heat pumps, helping these systems operate more efficiently. Strategically sited shade trees can reduce home energy use by an average of 249 kilowatt-hours per year, or about 2%.

Plant deciduous shade trees – those that lose their leaves in the winter – to shade the southern exposure of your home in the summer, but still allow winter sun to warm your home. Plant evergreens for windbreaks.


Image of a girl planting a tree

Image credit: alexkatkov/Shutterstock



Get a free tree!

Tree Montgomery is a new program to plant shade trees – for free. The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will plant the trees and give them some after care in the vital first years of life.

The program will plant trees in yards of single family homes, parking lots, and multi-family communities. In addition, it also targets tree plantings in areas with a lot of development, little tree canopy, or a real need for shade. When installed, the trees will be 10 to 12 feet tall and will eventually be more than 50 feet tall, providing you with decades of shade.


Guides and tips for buying, planting and caring for trees.

The Maryland Tree Benefit Calculator.

Get a free tree planted through Tree Montgomery!

Shades of Green provides free trees for planting to qualifying property owners in highly developed areas like downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda.

Montgomery County “Leaves for Neighborhoods” $40 coupon towards the purchase of a tree costing $75 or more.

$25 coupon from the State of Maryland for planting a tree costing $50 or more.

If a stream or other waterway is located on or near your property, the Maryland Forest Service will give you a free “buffer in a bag”, containing 20-30 tree and shrub seedlings, to help establish or enlarge a forest buffer.


RainScapes Rewards



I know nothing about trees. How do I choose the right one for my yard?

There are several factors that go into choosing the right tree for your yard – size, shape, color, etc. But there are other considerations beside aesthetics too. For instance, while it is general rule that native species will grow best, you still have to consider the type of soil in your yard and how big the tree will eventually grow. Do a little research and observe some key characteristics of your yard, then take this information to the tree expert at your local nursery to find a native species for your yard.

Observe and record the following points:

  1. Look up! Are there any wires or obstructions above or near where you want to plant a tree? Be sure to imagine how big a tree will grow, not just the size of the tree when it is planted.
  2. Does your yard currently grow grass well? Do you know what kind of grass in is your yard?
  3. Is your soil rocky? Are the rocks small like pebbles or larger?
  4. Does your yard remain wet and spongy a day or two after a rain?

These factors will help you and your nursery choose the best native shade tree for your yard.


Can I help to plant trees in Maryland other than on my own property?

Yes, give the gift of a tree on public land. TREE-MENDOUS Maryland will plant a tree in someone’s honor — or your own — for $40. Native trees are a thoughtful gift that helps our environment for many years.


I have acres of woods on my property. What can I do to protect them for future generations?

If you have five or more contiguous acres of forested land in Maryland, you may be eligible for the American Tree Farm program that will help you manage your woods sustainably. You may also qualify for a reduced property tax assessment if you are willing to keep the land in the Forest Conservation and Management Program for at least 15 years. See the State’s Forest Conservation and Management Program or the American Tree Farm System for more information.


Why is it important to have trees in urban areas?

The role of trees and forests in our ecosystems is absolutely critical. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. A single large tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen- enough to support two people.

Besides enhancing the beauty of a landscape, shade trees also provide cost savings. Depending on location, species, size, and condition, shade from trees can reduce utility bills for air conditioning in residential and commercial buildings by 15 to 50%.

To learn more about the importance of shade trees in urban areas, see the American Forests website or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service website.

(12) Comments

  1. raingarden Jan 14, 2012

    I took a 2 trees out because they blocked my solar panels. The solar panels produce 30% of my electrical power. It is now 50% of my electrical power since I cut back on my electrical use. I have awnings on the south side that stop sun in the summer and allow it in the winter.

    • tomatillo Jul 22, 2012

      Hi raingarden. I took out an eastern white pine that was raggedy and partly shading my solar panels and am really sorry! The squirrels and woodpeckers are gone, and sightings of other wildlife in the yard have decreased too. The increase in solar panel efficiency is probably offset by decrease in shade to the attic. I have replanted that area with river birch and am squeezing in as many native trees as possible in other parts of this small lot to make up for the mistake.

      • mastergardener Jun 01, 2016

        Hi tomatillo. You don’t need shade trees to invite wildlife into your garden, smaller trees do as well. Solar panels don’t increase attic heat, and attic solar heat should be ameliorated through insulation not shade trees. Protecting the ozone layer matters.

  2. Mian Aug 01, 2012

    I have fallen big branch of tree during last windstorm. It belong t neighborhood but fallen in my area of house.
    How it can be removed. 301 906 0099.

  3. Paul Hlavinka Sep 03, 2012

    The Muddy Branch Alliance has started an initiative to plant trees in the Gaithersburg/North Potomac areas. If you are interested, read more about it on our website. If you would like a tree for your yard please do contact us!

  4. Rob and Susie Huey Aug 26, 2015

    live at 4614 Maple Ave and I believe our whole block is interested…


  5. Alejandra Franco Aug 31, 2015

    My family are interested in planting a tree in memory of our late cousin who past away last Sunday. We would like to do this in a public are so that we all can visit it freely. Is this possible, if so, could you please send me information.

    Thank you,


  6. Kevin Shaulis Jun 29, 2016

    I’m interested in getting one or two trees planted in a common area behind my townhome. The HOA I belong to removed two large pine trees behind my home which provided shade and privacy to my backyard. I requested that the trees be replaced at a recent HOA meeting, but I was denied because of the cost and setting a precedent to replace all trees that are cut down in the community. I have lived in my townhome for almost 12 years now, and the trees that were cut down were probably over 30 years old. Out of those 12 years that I lived there, the past two years we have had no shade or privacy.

    • jjones Jul 05, 2016


      To get started with the request for free Tree Montgomery tree plantings, visit and complete the form. If the trees are on HOA property, then we would need permission from the HOA to move forward. If they are on your property then our staff will work directly with you. If you have specific questions on the process, email


  7. Gina Martin Mar 07, 2017

    Hello, my team of 30 and I are interested in tree planting as a team building activity and to help out our local community. Do you have programs that offer this type of activity? Please advise, we are excited to get started!

    • susan Mar 15, 2017

      Hi Gina, thanks for your interest in planting trees. At this time we do not have any tree planting events scheduled, but I believe my colleague Laura Miller sent you some information about organizations you can contact to learn about local tree planting programs. I hope that info was helpful, and if we can assist with anything else, please feel free to contact me.
      Susan Kornacki
      Outreach and Education Specialist, DEP

  8. Rayne Feb 09, 2018

    Plant a tree for me

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