Bowie residents who spruce up their lawn could save some green thanks to a new tree planting rebate program.
Up to 100 Bowie residents who live within city limits and plant a tree on their property between March 1 and May 31 will be eligible for a $100 rebate from the city. The rebate — which can be claimed only once — goes toward the cost and planting of a tree.
Bowie officials approved the rebate program on Feb. 18 to increase the city’s tree canopy, said Kirstin Larson, Bowie’s sustainability planner. The city’s canopy currently is at 42 percent, but a 2012 resolution approved by the City Council states the city’s goal is 45 percent coverage.
A tree canopy is how much coverage a city has from its trees.
“We really want to focus on residents planting trees,” Larson said. “It is a win-win situation. People benefit and the city benefits.”
Larson said more trees in the city means increased property values for residents, noise buffers and cleaner air, as trees take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.
Replacing those trees will take time, after thousands were cut down in 2010 by Baltimore Gas and Electric to insure the company’s power lines weren’t damaged by falling trees and limbs.
Increasing the city’s canopy from 42 percent to 45 percent will require about 10,000 trees, not including trees the city loses over time, Larson said.
Studies show that trees planted by residents are more efficient in increasing the city’s canopy, as residents have more overall space to plant on than the city, Larson said.
“We have a lot of room to cover,” Larson said. “We are trying to start something and you have to start somewhere.”
The city’s rebate program requires native trees, which are provided on a list.
Patuxent Nursery will have applications for the program and trees that are eligible for planting.
Buying a tree will cost at least about $130. The nursery can deliver and plant trees for residents for a fee that hasn’t been determined yet, said Steve Gilmore, the nursery’s tree and shrub buyer.
Residents also can buy, transport and plant trees themselves.
Residents also can apply for the state’s Marylanders Plant Trees rebate of $25, as long as the extra rebate doesn’t mean residents make money to plant the tree, according to the rebate program.
“I think it is great for everybody,” Gilmore said. “Trees add shade to help with cooling and can increase your property value.”
Larson said she is confident residents will take advantage of the program, but admitted that it is an experiment to see how to motivate residents to plant more trees.
City Councilman Dennis Brady (At-Large) said he liked the program’s focus on residents because the city only controls certain property.
“We lost trees. Now, we are trying to plant trees in areas of the city that are available and can host the tree in the long term,” Brady said.