Tree Programs

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.

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 trees. 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 trees. The tree species were Eastern Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, Black Gum, and Red Maple.
  • 2021: 2,250 trees. The tree species were Black Gum, Red Maple, Flowering Dogwood, and Eastern Redbud
  • 2022: 3,000 trees. 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 trees. 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 spring tree giveaway with a focus on native tree species that are beneficial to pollinators. Trees for Bees is part of the Howard County Bee City initiative lead by the Office of Community Sustainability. Trees for Bees offers non-profit groups trees to plant in their common areas and also a residential tree giveaway. Learn more about Howard County Bee City and helping pollinators on our Pollinators page.

  • 2022: 1,000 trees. The species were Acer rubrum, Cercis canadensis, Amelanchier canadensis, Prunus americana, Salix sericea, Ceanothus americanus, Clethra alnifolia, and Cornus amomum.
  • 2023: 1,365 trees. The species were Nyssa sylvatica, Cercis canadensis, Prunus serotina, Salix discolor, Aronia arbutifolia, Clethra alnifolia, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Callicarpa americana.
  • 2024: 1,650 trees. The species wereCeltis occidentalis, Juniperus virginiana, Prunus serotina, Aronia melanocarpa, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Viburnum nudum.

Together, the Annual Tree Giveaway and Trees for Bees have added 16,285 native trees to Howard County’s environment. Thank you to everyone who participated in these programs!


tree planting

Stream ReLeaf

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). Recreation and Parks’ staff will work with homeowners on a personalized plan.

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. This Recreation and Parks 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.

Tree Canopy

The Tree Canopy program was created to improve environmental equity through focused tree planting in communities with lower tree canopy coverage. Full size, native species, canopy trees are prioritizes with the goal of providing shade and reduce heat islands.

To qualify for the program, property owners must commit to receiving and maintaining 1 to 10 trees on their property. The property owner must care for the trees provided by the County including watering, shelter maintenance and removal, protecting trees from deer and other pests, as well as invasive species remediation.

Howard County Recreation and Parks staff will assess each property to determine eligibility. A planting plan, including planting boundaries and a tree species list, will be created in collaboration with the property owner. An emphasis will be given to planting full size canopy trees.

Vol­un­teers Plant­ing Trees

Live Green Howard Community
  • 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,


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.