Howard County “Students Branching Out” Tree Planting Program

What is polluted runoff?

Parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed contain a high percentage of impervious cover – paved or other hard surfaces such as roofs and roadways that prevent rain water from being absorbed into the ground.  Instead, water runs along these surfaces, collecting trash and substances such as motor oil, lawn fertilizers, and pesticides. This polluted stormwater flows into streams and rivers, where it threatens aquatic ecosystems and public health.  

Effective stormwater management, on the other hand, creates safe paths for polluted runoff to be captured and filtered through the ground before it reaches waterways. This helps keep the environment clean and our communities healthy!

urban tree planting
before image
Students work together to plant a tree. Photo credit: Office of Community Sustainability, Howard County.
after image
Students pose with their newly planted tree. Photo credit: Office of Community Sustainability, Howard County.


Project Location: Howard County, MD

Problem: Howard County has affirmed a commitment to planting trees throughout the county, given the many benefits of urban forests and tree canopies. These benefits include noise reduction, improved air quality, temperature regulation, augmented aesthetics, higher property values, and stormwater management (reduced erosion, flooding, and water pollution).

Solution: To augment tree canopy, encourage volunteerism, and support environmental education, Howard County created the Students Branching Out program, which engages students to plant trees on school grounds.  To date, fifteen schools throughout the county have participated, improving school health and aesthetics while enhancing water quality in local streams.

Funding Sources: Chesapeake Bay Trust; Howard County General Fund


Contact Information
Rachel Beebe | Howard County | | 410-313-0678
Key project facts
Project Type
Tree Planting
Project Scale
$100,000 - $249,999
Story Focus
Cost Efficiency
Environmental Justice
Environmental Benefits
Community Engagement
Stormwater Funds
Problem Addressed
Year Installed