Maryland’s New Approach to Increasing Urban Tree Canopy

To achieve two new urban tree canopy goals, maintain existing statewide 40% forest canopy coverage and expand tree canopy coverage 45 acres per year or 540 new acres by 2025, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources – Forest Service (MD Forest Service) developed two new tree planting assistance programs that reach landowners within the urban/suburban areas of Maryland.

“These two programs have allowed the Maryland Forest Service to reach out to non-traditional cooperators to help achieve our urban tree canopy goals,” said Don Van Hassent, Acting State Forester.

These programs meet the goals outlined in Maryland’s Forest Action Plan related to maintaining forest cover and pursuing no-net-loss of forests.

The new programs target the 1.1 million acres of turf statewide.  Each targets different lot size and different available planting space.  The “Lawn to Woodland” program, a partnership with National Arbor Day Foundation, targets the small lot with 1-5 acres of plantable space.  The Foundation does outreach while MD Forest Service handles the tree planting at no cost to the lot owner.  The other program, the “Marylanders Plant Trees” program, is a $25 coupon reimbursement program targeting individuals wishing to plant a tree.

The “Lawn to Woodland” program first piloted a targeted area in spring 2014.  Results include 14 acres planted on 12 lots and 7,000 seedlings purchased from the state nursery. The program went statewide in spring 2015 with 100 acres planted on 84 lots and 41,220 seedlings purchased from the state nursery.  Pilot area survival rate in summer of 2015 was 85-90 percent.  The statewide survival rates in fall 2015 were similar.

The “Marylanders Plant Trees” program enables the very small lot owner to purchase a tree valued at $50 or more and, reduce the cost by use of the $25 coupon. There are 85 participating nurseries across the state. From the program’s inception in FY09 to FY15, 33,324 coupons have been reimbursed. Learn more about these programs at