Environmental Protection and Sustainability
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Big Trees Sale

Photo of residents purchasing trees at the Big Trees Sale.

The fall 2015 Big Trees Sale has now ended. Thank you to everyone who purchased Big Trees. A date will be posted soon for the Spring 2016 Big Trees Sale. Next spring, join the hundreds of citizens who have purchased and planted nearly 3,300 Big Trees through our 10 sales to date.

Please read the details below about what Big Trees are and how you can order trees. Baltimore County residents can order Big Trees online now and pick up trees on one of four days at our reforestation nursery in Middle River.

Each spring and fall, EPS hosts the Big Trees Sale featuring a selection of native trees. Big Trees are intended to be planted on private residential properties (no orders for contractors or businesses).

What are Big Trees?

Big Trees are Maryland native species such as oaks and maples that grow taller and cast shade over a wider area than do smaller trees such as dogwoods and flowering cherries. Big Trees need room to grow and take longer to mature, but they provide greater and longer-lasting benefits to homeowners when properly sited.

If you have room on your property for a Big Tree, there’s a tree species adapted to your site’s conditions, whether it’s wet, dry, sunny, shady, flat or hilly! Descriptions and growing conditions for each species are provided below.

Why Plant Big Trees?

Planting large trees is so advantageous that the better question may be “why not Big Trees?” When properly selected, located, planted and maintained, native overstory trees:

  • Provide shade and funnel air in the summer for cooling and form windbreaks in the winter for warming
  • Soak up excess storm water, filter pollutants and control erosion
  • Improve community aesthetics and increase property values
  • Provide bird and other wildlife habitat
  • Reduce energy costs, clean the air and sequester carbon dioxide
  • Contribute to Maryland’s 2020 goal of “No Net Loss of Forests” and the County’s Tree Canopy goals
  • Facilitate Baltimore County’s work to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Big Trees species generally outperform smaller ornamental tree species for providing environmental benefits. Compare these three Big Trees species (PDF) to three common understory ornamental species of different sizes for their ability to soak up excess rainwater, save energy through shading, remove atmospheric carbon and add to property values for single family homes.

Baltimore County encourages citizens to consider planting oak species due to their superior habitat value. Research shows that in the spring, the leaves of oak trees are a critical food source for moth caterpillars that breeding songbirds gather to feed their hatchlings. Oaks are the preferred food source for 534 species of moth caterpillars, whereas maples support 285 species, beeches support 126 species and sweetgum provide little or no food source for birds. The oak forests that once dominated our region are declining and Big Trees is a great way you can help restore our forest ecosystems.

What Big Trees are Available?

Species typically for sale are listed below. Pictures and descriptions of the Big Trees species (PDF) are available. Understanding a species’ appearance, size, soil preferences, sunlight requirements and relative tolerance to urban conditions can help you determine which Big Tree is right for your yard. Important factors include the moisture and consistency of the soil, the amount of sun exposure and the degree of soil compaction.

Image of trees at the Big Trees Sale. The following species will be available during the fall 2015 sale:
  • Black Oak
  • Chestnut Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • Red Oak
  • Scarlet Oak
  • Swamp White Oak
  • White Oak
  • Pitch Pine
  • River Birch
  • Sugar Maple
  • White Pine

Plant Trees in the Right Place

If you aren't sure where to plant your tree, EPS has developed guidelines for community planting projects which can help you determine which species is right for your home and where to plant to avoid any problems.

Trees should be planted in the right location to protect power lines from damage. Read about Baltimore Gas and Electric's (BGE) Right Tree Right Place Program for more information.

Image of a tree shelter kit.

Shelter Kits for Deer Protection

Tree shelter kits are sold to protect your trees from deer browsing and buck rubbing. Each kit costs $8 and includes:

  • A 64-inch length of deer fencing to make a 20-inch diameter, five-foot tall tree shelter
  • Two six-foot heavy duty wood stakes
  • Six nylon cable ties to attach the shelter to the stakes
  • Directions for assembly and installation

Have a Large Area to Plant?

If you have one acre or larger of land in Baltimore County that you (or you and a contiguous neighbor) would want to reforest, we are interested in working with you as part of our expanded reforestation efforts for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). Trees planted through the WIP program incur no cost to homeowners or landowners. Funding for Phase II of the WIP was generated through Baltimore County's Stormwater Remediation Fee.

If you can't find the Big Tree species you are looking for you can also visit one of the retail nurseries or garden centers in Baltimore County.

For information about 200 species of forest trees, see the USDA Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 654: Silvics of North America, Volume 1-Conifers and Volume 2-Hardwoods.

If you need assistance or have questions, send an email to bigtrees@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Revised October 23, 2015

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