Free Tree Applications Accepted Now!

By Bill Anhut, Lyon Park’s Tree Steward

Arlington County is losing overhead tree canopy primarily due to new home development and environmental causes. Lyon Park is one area of Arlington recently experiencing the largest decline in tree canopy coverage. When a large canopy tree is removed, it takes more than twenty years for newly planted trees to replace the lost tree’s oxygen production and rainwater control benefits. Removing a mature tree is a personal decision by a landowner, but the owner and neighbors can help remediate the loss of tree coverage by planting more trees near the fallen predecessor and in appropriate spaces within their own yards. 

Arlington County encourages tree planting in its citizen’s yards by offering two programs providing free trees: The Tree Canopy Fund and October’s Tree Distribution event. The Tree Canopy Fund Program is a developer-funded and volunteer-administered program that plants nursery-grade, native shade trees on private property. Applications are received twice a year, January 6, for Spring planting and June for Fall planting. To be eligible to receive a free canopy tree, (a $350-$450 value), a property owner must represent that the intended location is suitable for the planting of a large tree and promise to care for the newly planted tree (i.e., water weekly during its first year). Each request will be carefully evaluated by a grant review panel based upon site suitability and the species of tree requested.

Applications must be submitted by Friday January 6, 2023. Panel results will be announced in early Spring and the trees will be planted by contracted professionals several weeks later. At the time of planting, trees are typically 2” in diameter, approximately 8-10’ tall and are expected to grow to heights ranging from 20-100’ at maturity (depending upon tree species). The following species are available in the current cycle:

Large Shade Trees:

American Beech, American Sycamore, Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, Swamp White Oak, Sweetgum, White Oak, and Willow Oak

Medium Shade Trees: 

Bald Cypress, Black Gum, and Wild Black Cherry

The Program, in its 14th year, awards hundreds of trees annually. The review panel usually approves tree applications for open and sunny areas (particularly on the south or westerly property quadrants). Special consideration is given to locations where a previous canopy tree once stood.
I will again serve as the Lyon Park Civic Association coordinator to help consult on tree species, location within your yard, prepare and submit your application. Contact me by e-mail ( or phone (301-908-8204) and notify me of your interest. Together, we will schedule a time for me to visit your home (between December 26 and January 5), to evaluate the planting location and agree upon a tree species to request. I will submit your application with other Lyon Park neighbors. Most applications I submit are approved. Won’t you help replenish Lyon Park’s tree canopy by contacting me today?