Plant One Tree on Us
The urban tree canopy (UTC) is the layer of tree leaves and branches seen from above. The benefits of individual trees and overall higher UTC range from energy conservation and increased home values to cleaner air and water. Because City Council set a goal of 45% tree canopy coverage, and residential land has the highest potential for increasing UTC, the City has been working on ways to increase private tree plantings. That brings us to the new Plant One Tree on Us program, or as we like to call it, POTOU. Below you'll find all the information you need to reserve a native tree planted for you.
How the Program Works
An overview of the process is:
- Read the information below
- Complete the online reservation form
- Contact Miss Utility (if you haven't already)
- Choose a location
- Sign and return the homeowner agreement (will be sent a few days after you submit the form)
Closer to the time of the plantings, City staff will drop a small orange marking flag at your house. The flag will need to be placed in the ground exactly where you want the tree planted. To help guide your choice of tree, continue reading.
*Previous recipients of a tree through this program are not currently eligible. Feel free to email Tiffany with a request. If there are extra trees available after everyone has gotten their first ones, you will be able to get a second tree.
Choosing Your New Tree
While deciding on a tree, remember the Right Tree Right Place process. The idea here is to consider certain characteristics of your preferred tree at maturity (e.g., roots, height, canopy spread, etc.) and the location where you want it planted. The goal is to minimize the potential for conflicts between the tree or its roots and adjacent structures such as driveways, underground infrastructure and power lines.
The City has created a tree selection chart with the basics about trees available through POTOU, and the Arbor Day Foundation and BGE have information on their websites with more information about the individual species and considerations for overhead powerlines.
When you have chosen the species you want, all you need to do is reserve the tree. After the application is processed, a homeowner agreement/waiver will be emailed to you. If you are not able to print it, a hard copy can be mailed. Please make a note in the comment section of the reservation form indicating if you will need a hard copy mailed to you. If you do not have email or internet access and don't have a friend or family member who can help, please call 301-809-3043.
The week before the tree is to be planted, staff will leave a small orange marking flag near your front door. It will need to be placed in the ground where you want the tree. Please Note: once the tree is planted, the contractor will not move it. Please ensure the flag is in the ground at the proper location. If the contractor does not see the flag, the tree will not be planted.
Frequently Asked Questions
A number of questions about this process have come up since this program began. If you have a question that is not answered here, feel free to call (301-809-3043) or email Tiffany Wright.
The tree will be a minimum of 1.5 inch caliper (the diameter measured about a foot above ground). Depending on the species, the height of the tree would be somewhere in the four to eight foot range.
While this is technically feasible in some cases, it is not allowed under this program. POTOU is intended to increase tree canopy across the city so survivability is crucial. This is best achieved in a new location. Please choose a location at least 15 feet away from any other tree (recently removed or still in the ground).
Yes, the tree can be planted anywhere you want it on your property (front, side, back) except within the City's right-of-way. This is the area about 11 feet from the edge of the paved road. To see if you can get a tree planted for you in the right-of-way, please email the Community Forester.
The best time to plant is fall. This helps the tree's roots get established in the soil before the warm weather brings leaves & flowers that compete with the roots for food and water. As long as Council funds the program, it usually opens by September, and if there are still trees available in the spring, we will open the program back up. NOTE: trees are never planted during the May to August timeframe.
No. This program is meant to increase tree canopy. If your tree is dead and/or a safety hazard and needs to be removed, please contact a tree removal company of your choosing. Your POTOU tree can be planted at least 15 feet away.