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Shades of Green

Free tree program

Trees have always been an important part of Montgomery County. Yet, many of our urban areas lack sufficient tree canopy cover. Urban tree canopy provides environmental and community benefits by improving water quality, reducing air pollution, decreasing energy demands and providing a shady, attractive, quality place.

To increase the urban tree canopy, the Planning Department has launched Shades of Green, a pilot program that provides free trees and two years of tree care to qualifying property owners in:

  • Silver Spring Central Business District
  • Montgomery Hills  
  • Wheaton  Central Business District
  • Flower/Piney Branch Urban District
  • Bethesda Central Business District
  • Friendship Heights Urban District
  • Westbard Urban District

Sign up for your free tree and two-year maintenance agreement.

Download our Tree Care and Maintenance Manual.


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


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 urban areas than most surrounding suburbs.

By partnering with property owners to plant trees on their land, planners will beautify urban districts, reduce street temperatures, and support the local economy.

Shades of Green is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, made up of contributions paid during the development process as compensation for tree loss and 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 only, the fund could now be used to meet urban tree canopy goals, creating potential for developer funds to improve the quality of life in urban areas.


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 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 border streets and sidewalks.
  • Property owners must be located in the areas designated on the boundary maps
  • Applicants must complete every field in the tree-planting request form
  • Planners will respond to applications within 48 hours
  • Trees come with a two-year watering agreement

Boundary maps

Click on a map to enlarge

Montgomery Hills Montgomery Hills
Silver Spring Silver Spring
Wheaton Wheaton

Bethesda CBD Bethesda CBD
Westbard Westbard
Friendship Heights Friendship Heights
Long Branch Long Branch

M-NCPPC Staff Contact

Tina Schneider, MLA
Area 1 Planner

Last updated: May 16, 2013