The Turf to Trees program was created to help alleviate the damaging effects of stormwater runoff by increasing tree coverage throughout the County. Trees help to abate stormwater runoff by:
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.
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 including, but not limited to, watering, shelter maintenance and removal, protecting trees from deer and other pests, as well as invasive species remediation.
The County 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 creating a contiguous planting, in which the trees are grouped together. However, non-contiguous plantings will be considered to address specific environmental concerns. Perimeter planting (one row of trees around a property) will not be accepted.
Priority will be given to properties with the following
Megan L.H. Mills
Howard County Recreation & Parks
Natural Resources Division
7120 Oakland Mills Road
Columbia, MD 21046
Trees improve water quality by reducing stormwater runoff, intercepting and storing rain water, increasing infiltration through root systems, reducing soil erosion and filtering pollutants. Trees help us by absorbing chemical pollutants, intercepting particulate matter, creating oxygen and cooling air temperature by turning water in vapor. Trees reduce atmospheric carbon by sequestering CO2 in their roots, trunks, stems and leaves. Trees raise property values by increasing curb appeal, creating privacy, reducing noise pollution and reducing heating and cooling costs by shading buildings and blocking winds.
A species list will be created, with your input, based on your goals for your new forest as well as what will thrive in the conditions of your property. All species chosen must be native to Maryland. Below are examples of native trees that we plant. We strive to obtain trees which are over 5 feet in height and at least 1” caliper, but substitutions may need to be made based on availability.
Red Maple, Acer rubrum
River Birch, Betula nigra
Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor
American Elm, Ulmus Americana
Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis
Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis
Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana
Smooth Alder, Alnus serrulata
Easter Redbud, Cercis Canadensis
Chestnut Oak, Quercus prinus
Tulip Poplar, Lirodendron tulipifera
Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia
Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida
Willow Oak, Quercus phellos
Northern Red Oak, Quercus rubra
Black gum, Nyssa sylvatica
Loblolly, Pinus taeda
Contact Megan Mills prior to submitting your application to confirm that your property qualifies. We are currently on a waitlist. We will take your information and contact you prior to the planting season we can accommodate your planting. Planting season is early spring and late fall, weather dependent.
To apply for the program, please fill out and submit the Application and Homeowner agreement below via email (preferred), fax or mail. The Tree Request Form and Right of Entry will be needed once a planting plan is in place.
Application and Agreement
Tree Request Form
Right of Entry
Tree Placement Guidelines
The mission of the Stream Releaf program is to create and enhance riparian forest buffers (protective strips of trees, shrubs and other vegetation's along a stream) to improve water quality and wildlife habitat throughout Howard County.