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.
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.
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.
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.
- Rebates of $200 per tree planted that adds to the urban canopy is offered through the Montgomery County RainScapes program.
- If you live in Rockville, you may be eligible for a $150 rebate per tree through the RainScapes Tree Canopy Rebate Program. Maximum reward is $600.
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:
- 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.
- Does your yard currently grow grass well? Do you know what kind of grass in is your yard?
- Is your soil rocky? Are the rocks small like pebbles or larger?
- 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.