Skip Navigation

Policy and Guidelines for Community Tree Planting

Background and Purpose

In October 2012, Baltimore County agencies developed a formal document, Policy and Guidelines for Community Tree Planting Projects. Because space for planting on public lands is limited, a process for review of planting proposals has been established for the following purposes:

  • To assure that the County can meet its reforestation mitigation obligations under the Maryland Forest Conservation Act and the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Act. The Policy establishes that the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) may reserve sites in order to meet these obligations. EPS is especially likely to reserve planting sites greater than one acre.
  • To improve the long-term success of community planting projects on public lands. Many past projects have not reached their potential due to improper species selection, tree spacing and maintenance. Under the Guidelines, EPS reviewers assure that each planting proposal meets standards that maximize the chances of long-term survival and tree health. Survival is critical to assure return on investment and to contribute as creditable practices toward Chesapeake Bay restoration programs. The need to favor our high-function oak-dominated canopies is a strong theme throughout.

The Policy and Guidelines below were updated in April 2013 to include updated contact information, to update the street tree planting approval process, to provide additions to tree species lists and to reduce the minimum tree caliper size for single-tree settings to 1.5 inches.

Underlying Principles

  • Successful tree planting requires careful planning, proper planting technique and diligent maintenance, with awareness of specific site conditions.
  • The reference condition for planting is the native oak-dominated forest that has provided superior ecosystem functions (wildlife habitat, water quality, stormwater control and carbon sequestration and storage) in the mid-Atlantic region for thousands of years.
  • Ecosystem functions and community benefits (shade and cooling, aesthetics) are optimized from trees that are healthy and that grow to maturity with well-developed crowns.

Approval Process and Guidelines

Citizens and community groups who wish to plant on Baltimore County property (parks, public schools, libraries and fire stations) are welcome to contact EPS to inquire about a particular site. Contact information is listed below.

Once the site is approved, citizens and groups should refer to the Policy and Guidelines for Community Tree Planting Projects (PDF) for details on developing successful tree planting plans. The Policy and Guidelines explain each step of the planting plan development, implementation and maintenance process. Planting plans are subject to review by EPS, which will evaluate the proposal for proper tree spacing, arrangement and species selection. Approved plans must guarantee ongoing site monitoring and maintenance for at least three years.

Additional Forms

Planting plans (aerial maps) submitted for approval must be accompanied by a Planting Narrative Form (PDF). The Narrative Form provides important contact information, as well as details that enable EPS to properly evaluate the planting plan.

Projects must be inspected and maintained on an ongoing basis for three years after planting. An Annual Maintenance Report Form (PDF) must be submitted to EPS each year, summarizing issues and maintenance tasks completed at the project site.

Contact Information

For more information about the program, please use the contact information below.

Leah Phillips
Phone: 410-887-1347

Revised January 30, 2017         


Did This Page Help?
Fields marked with * are required.
Page Rating*