ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has announced another round of the County’s annual native tree giveaway, with sign-up set to take place Wednesday, September 7th. New this year, residents will have the opportunity to register for a tree at two different times, with half the trees available at 2:00 p.m. and the second half available at 7:00 p.m. At these times, the link to reserve your tree – limited to one tree per household, will be posted on the Department of Recreation & Parks Natural Resources website under the “Annual Tree Giveaway” dropdown.
Recognizing the success of our tree giveaway program since 2019, this year we are pleased to be able to offer a record number trees for our residents. Since 2018, we have planted over 60,000 trees in our community. This year, through our efforts to give away 3,000 trees, we are bringing our grand giveaway total since the program launched in 2019 to 9,225 trees, allowing more residents to play a part in increasing our county’s tree canopy. By continuing to plant thousands of trees each year, we are using one of the most effective tools to protect our environment while improving our community’s health and beauty.
Residents will have nine tree species from which to choose: Black Gum, Red Maple, Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, Hornbeam, River Birch, Common Persimmon, White Oak, and Sweetbay Magnolia. Each tree is native to Maryland, meaning that it is acclimated to this climate and provides benefits to local pollinators and wildlife. Trees are limited to one per household and residents will be responsible for picking up, planting and caring for their tree.
Pickup dates are Wednesday, September 21st from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. (time is tentative), Thursday, September 22nd from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 24th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Each of these days will have two locations running simultaneously; one at West Friendship Park (12985 Frederick Road, West Friendship) and another at Rockburn Branch Park – West (6105 Rockburn Branch Park Road, Elkridge). All trees come in a five-gallon container and are anywhere from three-to-10-feet tall, depending on the species, so please plan accordingly.
The department remains committed to providing our residents with a greener and more sustainable Howard County. We hope these trees provide needed shade, protection for wildlife, and memories in your yards for generations to come.
In addition to Recreation & Parks’ instructional video on how to properly plant a tree, the County’s Office of Sustainability has also provided the following suggestions:
- Locate a site for your tree or shrub that allows for an appropriate amount of sunlight and moisture for that species.
- Dig a hole two times wider than the root ball being planted. Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball is level with or up to one inch above the level of the surrounding soil.
- Remove the tree from the container. Loosen the root system gently so that the roots point outward away from the center.
- In the hole, make a mound of soil and spread the plant’s roots out and down over it.
- Place soil from the hole around the roots. Compress the soil and water the plant when the hole is half full. Keep adding soil if needed to fill the hole and completely cover the roots. Do not cover the root collar, where the base of the tree trunk flares out. Compress the soil again and water.
- Spread mulch over the planting area to a depth of two to three inches, but do not place mulch against the trunk of the tree.
- Staking the tree should not be needed. You should place a tree bark protector around the trunk of a tree to prevent deer from rubbing their antlers on it.
- Water the plant during the growing season as needed if there isn't rain. A long drink of water once a week is better than light watering more frequently.
- Please be careful that trees are not placed in an area with a private underground utility, such as an invisible dog fence or septic field.
- Always call Miss Utility prior to digging to identify public underground utilities such as sewer, cable or electric lines.
- For more information on safe tree placement, please refer to the “Tree Planting and Maintenance Guidelines” dropdown.
For further information about the 2022 annual tree giveaway, including the registration link, descriptions of the trees and details on the pickup locations, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/park-rangers#forestry and click on the “Annual Tree Giveaway” tab.