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Free Seedlings for Kent, Queen Anne’s County

‘Backyard Buffers’ Available to Riparian Homeowners

Photo of loblolly pine seedlings being grown at a nursery

Loblolly pine seedlings growing at John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering free tree seedlings to help improve water quality in targeted Eastern Shore communities.

Landowners in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties who have a creek, drainage ditch, stream, or other waterway on or near their property are eligible for free tree seedlings through the department’s Backyard Buffer program.

Trees planted along waterways help improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, reducing sediment, lowering water temperatures, and stabilizing stream banks.

Each “buffer in a bag” contains bare-root, native tree or shrub seedlings suited for planting in moist soil conditions. Homeowners can choose from a small bag of 10 with two of each species and a large bag of 25 with five of each species. The bundle will include eastern redbud, silky dogwood, persimmon, swamp white oak, and hackberry. Loblolly pine will be bagged separately in quantities of 10 per bag. All seedlings are 1 year old and about 8 to 10 inches tall.

Tree protection tubes will again be available for purchase on orders in both counties through the Queen Anne’s County Forestry Board. The tree shelters will include a 4-foot tube, bird net, and 5-foot wooden stake. Tree tubes provide a number of beneficial purposes including blocking deer rubbing, discouraging animals from chewing on the seedlings, protecting the seedlings from frost damage, providing markers to identify the trees when mowing, and functioning as small “greenhouses” promoting increased height growth.

All requests must be received by March 20, and pickup will be scheduled in early April. Quantities are limited so reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Additionally, a free workshop on tree buffers will take place March 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Price Community Center, 121 Rabbit Hill Road, Church Hill. Landowners will have the opportunity to learn about the the Backyard Buffer program and its benefits, tree spacing, species selection, tree planting, deer protection, maintenance, cost-share opportunities, where to purchase bare-root tree seedlings, and more. The workshop is limited to 30 people.

To reserve seedlings or participate in the workshop, interested homeowners should call the Maryland Forest Service Centreville office at 410-819-4120 or email Brittany Haas at