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.
An overview of the process is: email Tiffany Wright to verify availability and eligibility*, complete the online reservation form you will get in a reply, contact Miss Utility, choose a location, and then sign and return the homeowner agreement. 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 and provide safe access to the yard for the contractor. To help guide your choice of tree and to reserve it, continue reading.
*Previous recipients of a tree through this program are not currently eligible. Feel free to email Tiffany with a request. If there is still money left in the program in early 2023, 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 to help guide you through these considerations.
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. You will have two weeks to sign and return it. 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 that. 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.
- How big is the tree? 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.
- Can the tree be planted in the spot where another tree was? 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 ten feet away from a recently (less than one year) dead/removed tree and 15 feet away from any other tree.
- Can the tree be planted in my backyard? Yes, the tree can be planted anywhere you want it on your property. If you are looking for a tree in the right-of-way (within about 11 feet of the paved road edge), please contact the Community Forester to see if that's possible.
- When will my tree be planted? Planting takes place in the fall and winter. The earliest trees will be planted is mid-October.
- Will the contractor cut down a tree to place the new one there? No. This program is meant to increase tree canopy. If the tree is dead and needs to be removed, please contact a tree removal company of your choosing. Your POTOU tree can be planted at least ten feet away.