University of Maryland Extension

Backyard Buffer Program

What is the Backyard Buffer Program?

The Backyard Buffer program is supported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and provides St. Mary's County homeowners free tree seedlings to create a native woodland buffer in their backyard. It is intended for landowners who have a drainage ditch, stream, creek, or river flowing through their property, or live adjacent to such a waterway. This program is for smaller landowners who are not eligible for agriculture cost-share programs. 

More information about Maryland DNR's Backyard Buffer program can be found here --> Backyard Buffers Program  

A flyer with this past year's program information can be found here --> Backyard Buffer 2020 Flyer The native tree species within the bundle will vary from year to year.

Please contact Missy Russell at or 301-475-4484, if you have questions about this program.


What is a forest buffer?

A forest buffer is an area of vegetation (trees and shrubs) that slow the flow of stormwater runoff, trapping sediment and allowing polluted water to soak into the soil before reaching our waterways (Chesapeake Bay Program)


What is in a "buffer in a bag"?

The bag includes native tree and shrub, bare-root seedlings, approximately 1-2 feet in height. Seedling bundles come in two sizes and will include a mix of the following species: Northern Red Oak, Sawtooth Oak, Service Berry, Redbud, and Crabapple. The native tree species included in the bundles will vary from year to year. 

  • Small Bundle: 9 seedlings (mix of species) - intended for properties with a minimum of 350 sq. ft. available space. 
  • Large Bundle: 15 seedlings (3 of each species) - intended for properties with approximately 0.5 acres of available space for planting. 

 *Note: Bundles cannot be separated.


How can I reserve my "buffer in a bag"?

If you would like to reserve seedlings for pickup Spring 2020, please use the following form. 

“Due to current events, the bundle pickup day, scheduled for April 4, has been cancelled. If you reserved a bundle for the 2020 season you will automatically be on the list for the next season that bundles are available.  Thank you for your patienc!"

Buffer Bundle Reservation Form  


 When can I pick-up my bundle?

 Please check back Spring 2021 for details about bundle pickup.

*Note: These are bareroot seedlings, that will be bundled into a large paper sack. A truck or large vehicle is not requir for pick-up. 


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