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Environmental Protection and Sustainability
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Big Trees Sale

The 2014 Spring Big Trees Sale has passed. The Fall Big Trees sale will take place in October 2014. 

Photo of residents purchasing trees at the Big Trees Sale.

Each spring and fall, Baltimore County hosts the Big Trees Sale, featuring a selection of native trees. Big Trees are intended to be planted on private residential properties (please, 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, 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, and
  • facilitate Baltimore County’s work to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Big Trees species generally out-perform smaller ornamental tree species for providing environmental benefits. Compare (PDF) these three Big Trees species 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 song birds 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 available at past Big Trees sales are listed below. They are typically provided in three-gallon pots unless noted otherwise. Pictures and descriptions of the Big Trees (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 you. 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.

Species Typically Sold

  • Black Oak
  • Bur Oak
  • Chestnut Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • Red Maple
  • Red Oak
  • Redbud
  • River Birch, single-stem and multi-stem
  • Scarlet Oak
  • Sugar Maple
  • Swamp White Oak
  • Sycamore
  • White Oak

Plant Trees in the Right Place

Not 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.

Image of a tree shelter kit.

Shelter Kits for Deer Protection

Tree shelter kits are available 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 would want to reforest, we are interested in working with you as part of our expanded reforestation efforts for the watershed implementation program.

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

Need more information? 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, you can contact us at bigtrees@baltimorecountymd.gov

Revised May 12, 2014

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