Planting trees is just about the best thing we can do for the environment. Trees reduce erosion, clean the air and water, lock down carbon from the atmosphere, provide habitat and make our community more resilient to climate change.
Annual Tree Giveaway
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2023 Tree Giveaway! An amazing 3,000 trees were distributed for planting in September 2023. Howard County provided the widest selection of native tree species than we’ve ever had before, Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, Black Gum, Red Maple, Common Persimmon, Swamp White Oak, Sweetbay Magnolia, Serviceberry, River Birch, and Paw Paw. This amazing variety provides biodiversity for our ecosystem. Planting trees fights climate change in two major ways, reducing the greenhouse gasses that are in the air and also boosting resiliency, particularly in reducing heat through shade.
Visit the Howard County Recreation and Parks Forestry page to learn more about Annual Tree Giveaway and other Rec and Parks tree programs. You can also learn about the Tree Giveaway and other local programs by following Live Green Howard on social media or subscribing to the monthly newsletter.
The 2023 Annual Tree Giveaway brought the 5-year Tree Giveaway total to 12,250!
Starting in 2019, Howard County launched the Annual Tree Giveaway. Managed by Howard County Recreation and Parks and the Howard County Office of Community Sustainability, native trees are reserved, picked up, and planted by Howard County residents each Fall. The Annual Tree Giveway helps fight climate change and also educates people about the benefits of native trees and how to properly plant and care for a tree.
The trees are all native species, meaning that they are adapted to our climate and conditions. Native species generally live longer and require less care. They are also co-adapted with native pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. The trees have been approximately 5 to 8 feet tall and come in 5-gallon containers.
- 2019: 2,000 native trees planted. The tree species were: Eastern Redbud, River Birch, Northern Red Oak, Swamp White Oak, Red Maple, Sycamore, American Hornbeam, and Black Gum.
- 2020: 2,020 native trees planted. The tree species were Eastern Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, Black Gum, and Red Maple.
- 2021: 2,250 native trees planted. The tree species were Black Gum, Red Maple, Flowering Dogwood, and Eastern Redbud
- 2022: 3,000 native trees planted. The tree species were, Easter Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, Hornbeam, Black Gum, Persimmon, Red Maple, White Oak, Sweet Bay Magnolia and River Birch.
- 2023: 3,000 native trees planted. The tree species were Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, Black Gum, Red Maple, Common Persimmon, Swamp White Oak, Sweetbay Magnolia, Serviceberry, River Birch, and Paw Paw.
Trees for Bees
In April 2022, Howard County added a second tree giveaway with a focus on species that are beneficial to pollinators. 1,000 trees were given out through local non-profits and individual residents in 2022 and 1,365 in April 2023! Combined with the Annual Tree Giveaway, that’s 11,615 trees added to Howard County’s environment. Thank you to everyone who participated in each program! Learn more about the Bee City program and helping pollinators on our Pollinators page.
The Stream ReLeaf program helps property owners plant riparian buffers. Riparian buffers are protective strips of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation along a stream which help prevent erosion, provide vegetative cover, and trap nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus – two major pollutants of the Chesapeake Bay. Thousands of trees have been planted this way.
In order for a property owner to be eligible for this program, they must commit to planting a minimum of a dozen trees or shrubs, and the area to be planted must be within 75 feet of a stream (but not in a utility right-of-way). For more information on the Stream ReLeaf Program, please visit the Recreation and Parks Departments’ Forestry webpage.
Turf to Trees
The Turf to Trees program was created to help alleviate the damaging effects of stormwater runoff by increasing tree coverage throughout the County. The program provides trees and planting services to Howard County property owners with lots of 1.5 to 10 acres in size, free of cost. Since the project started in 2015, over 3,100 trees have been planted.
To qualify for the program, property owners must commit to receiving and maintaining a minimum of 50 trees. The property owner must care for the trees provided by the County. To learn more, visit the Turf to Trees webpage.
Volunteers Planting Trees
- Students Branching Out is a Howard County program that involves students in tree planting projects. Visit the Students Branching Out webpage to find out more.
- Each spring, at Earth Day with Recreation and Parks, volunteers plant trees in local parks or open space. More trees are planted each fall at Family Volunteer Day. These events are usually in April and November. Signups are posted seasonally on Howard County’s volunteering website, hocovolunteer.org
Previous Tree Programs
- In spring 2017, 250 native trees were given out to Howard County residents through a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and BGE.
- In 2010, the County provided trees to county residents through the 2010 Trees and 2010 More Trees events.