Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ December 2019

Montgomery County Will Plant a Curbside Tree, But You Have to Ask

By Jacquie Bokow

In our neighborhood, there are many homes without trees in the space between the sidewalk and the curb.  Residents are not permitted to plant trees in the right-of-way (ROW) but, at the request of a resident, the county will inspect and plant a tree if spacing allows.

Any tree growing in a street right-of-way is a county-owned tree.  It isn’t always obvious where private property begins, as the line can be several feet into a front yard beyond the edge of the sidewalk or street, says the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT).  The county is responsible for the health and maintenance of county-owned trees and MCDOT is the agency in charge.  Permits are required to do anything that impacts a county-owned tree.

Montgomery County claims it plants roughly 1,800 trees per year in public rights-of way, but trees are replaced only if the property owner requests it.  If you desire that a tree be planted in your right-of-way, you can request a street tree online [] or by calling 311 (inside Montgomery County) or 240.777.0311 (outside county or by cell phone).

A county arborist will inspect your property for appropriate species and location and select the type of tree for the county right-of-way.  You can request a particular type of tree, but there is no guarantee you’ll get what you want.

The list of trees that the county has deemed acceptable appears below.  Amazingly, less than half the trees offered are native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  And I was astonished that Quercus alba, the White Oak, Maryland’s State Tree, is not on the list!

Planting usually occurs in late fall and early spring, but can occur in winter if weather permits.  The Tree Maintenance Section says it tries to accommodate requests as soon as the next planting season arrives, but sometimes it may need to wait until the following planting season.

MCDOT claims that one of its representatives will investigate and respond to service requests within 260 business days.  Unfortunately, that amounts to 52 weeks, not counting holidays, which may explain the long stretch of Hannes Street that’s been without curbside trees for years.

New Street Tree Care Information

If a new tree is planted by the county on your property, you’d be expected to:

Free Trees for Your Yard

If you want a shade tree planted elsewhere in your yard or garden (not streetside), contact Tree Montgomery, a program of the MoCo Department of Environmental Protection, for a tree that’s free or available at a reduced price.  After one tree is planted in your yard, you can keep signing up to get more.  Get details at or call 311 to get on the wait list.  Call now to plant in spring 2021, as they only plant in fall and spring.

The MoCo Planning Department has a free tree program called Shades of Green [ (It seems this exact webpage is no longer available.)] focused on planting trees in urban areas.  The Planning Department also offers a downloadable $40 coupon [] that can be used to buy and plant shade trees with a retail value of $75 at participating nurseries.

Stump Removal

MCDOT’s budget for tree stump grinding and removal can’t keep up with the number of trees removed from public ROWs.  There is a four-year backlog for removal of curbside tree stumps.  Obviously, new trees cannot be planted until stumps are removed.  Residents can advocate to allocate more money for tree stump removal to the County Executive and Council.   ■

MCDOT List of Available ROW Trees

(minimum of 40' at maturity, not allowed under power lines)

Scientific Name Common Name Height
+Celtis occidentalis Hackberry/Sugarberry 40'-50'
Cladratis kentukea* Yellowwood 30'-50'
+Fagus grandifolia American Beech 50'-90'
Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo (male, fruitless) 50'-80'
Gymnocladus dioicus Kentucky Coffeetree (male, fruitless) 60'-75'
+Liquidambar styraciflua Sweetgum (fruitless) 65'-75'
+Nyssa sylvatica Blackgum 40'-70'
Platanus × acerifolia London Planetree 70'-80'
Quercus lyrata Overcup Oak 45'-55'
+Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak 60'-80'
Quercus macrocarpa Bur Oak 70'-80'
+Quercus muehlenbergii Chinquapin Oak 40'-60'
+Quercus phellos Willow Oak/Pin Oak 60'-75'
+Quercus rubra Northern Red Oak 60'-80'
Styphnolobium japonicum* Japanese Pagoda Tree 40'-70'
+Taxodium distichum Bald or Swamp Cypress 50'-70'
Tilia tomentosa Silver Linden 50'-60'
Tilia americana American Linden 50'-80'
+Ulmus americana American Elm 60'-80'
Ulmus parvifolia Lacebark Elm 40'-45'
Zelkova serrata Zelkova 50'-60'

(maximum 35', may be planted directly under power lines)

Scientific Name Common Name Height
Acer buergerianum Trident Maple 30'-35'
Acer ginnala Amur maple 15'-20'
Amelanchier laevis* Serviceberry (single stem) 25'-35'
+Carpinus caroliniana American Hornbeam 20'-40'
+Cercis canadensis* Eastern Redbud 20'-30'
Chionanthus retusus* Chinese Fringetree 10'-20'
+Cornus florida* White Flowering Dogwood 20'-30'
+Cornus florida ‘rubra’* Pink Flowering Dogwood 20'-30'
Cornus kousa* Kousa Dogwood 15'-20'
+Crataegus viridis Green Hawthorn 20'-35'
Koelreuteria paniculata* Goldenraintree 30'-40'
+Magnolia virginiana* Sweetbay Magnolia 10'-35'
Malus ×* Flowering Crabapple 20'-25'
+Ostrya virginiana Ironwood 25'-40'
Parrotia persica Persian Parrotia 20'-40'
Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache 30'-35'
+Prunus virginiana ‘Schubert’* Purple-leaf Chokecherry 20'-30'
Prunus × incamp ‘Okame’* Okame Cherry 15'-25'
Syringa reticulata* Japanese Tree Lilac 20'-25'

* Denotes a flowering tree
+ Native to the Piedmont area of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  The NFCCA strongly urges you to choose only native species for your yard.


   © 2019 NFCCA  [Source:]