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Shades of Green

Free tree program

Trees have always been an important part of Montgomery County. Yet, many of our Business districts lack sufficient tree canopy cover. Tree canopy provides environmental and community benefits by improving water quality, reducing air pollution, decreasing energy demands, improving habitat and nesting areas, and reducing heat island effect.

To increase the urban tree canopy, the Planning Department has launched Shades of Green, a program that provides free trees and planting for qualifying property owners in the following urban areas:
Silver Spring Central Business District   Grosvenor
Montgomery Hills   Clarksburg Town Center
Wheaton  Central Business District Cloverleaf Center
Flower/Piney Branch Urban District Damascus Town Center
Bethesda Central Business District Great Seneca Science Center
Friendship Heights Urban District North Bethesda Community/MU Center
Germantown Center Glenmont
Shady Grove Twinbrook
Olney Center White Flint
  White Oak Science Gateway

If your property is within one of these areas and there is sufficient soil volume and sunlight, you may qualify. Sign up today for an evaluation.

To learn about tree care and maintenance, click here.


Planners Katherine Nelson and Tina Schneider discuss Shades of Green in this excerpt from our Montgomery Plans cable show.

Origin of Program

Trees in urban setting

In 2011, as part of an effort to understand existing tree cover across the county, urban planners analyzed Montgomery County’s tree canopy cover — the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. The project used high-resolution aerial imagery to gather data on tree cover throughout the county. The study revealed significantly lower tree canopy cover in Business districts than most surrounding suburbs.

By partnering with property owners to plant trees on their land, planners will beautify urban districts, reduce street and air temperatures, and improve quality of life for all residents.

Shades of Green is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, made up of contributions paid during the development process as compensation for tree loss when tree-planting on site is impractical. In 2009, the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources amended the restrictions that governed the use of such funds. Rather than being restricted to use for forest mitigation only, the fund can now be used to meet urban tree canopy goals, to improve the quality of life in urban areas.

Tree Benefits

people planting tree in neighborhoodFor urban dwellers and visitors, trees offer a respite from summer heat and protection from the elements year-round. They contribute to a pleasing atmosphere that encourages people to walk, cycle, shop and gather.

Research has also shown that trees planted in downtown retail areas draw more patrons. Read "Research on City Trees and Retail." (403 KB)


Eligibility and details

  • Trees cannot be planted in street rights-of-way. Rights-of-way are publicly owned lands that typically include streets and sidewalks.
  • Property owners must be located within the areas designated on the boundary shown: maps
  • Applicants must complete every field in the tree-planting request form
  • Planners will respond to applications within 48 hours
  • A site evalution must be scheduled to confirm adequacy of space and location

M-NCPPC Staff Contact

Tina Schneider, MLA
Area 1 Planner

Last updated: May 16, 2013