Small Trees Make Big Canopies

The Small Trees Make Big Canopies Program has gone dormant for the summer and will become active again with tree giveaways in late September or early October.


Register Your Tree

About the Program   *   Species of Trees Available   *   Tree Request Form

Why Give Away Trees?

Arlington’s tree canopy is shrinking fast as our largest trees fall victim to age, redevelopment, poor pruning practices around power lines and prolonged periods of drought and record high flash rainfalls. Many seek to replant, but the instinct to plant a larger tree often leads to disappointing results, since larger nursery trees need extensive root trimming to be portable enough to sell.

Canopy Loss

Smaller trees, ones whose root balls are no bigger than a one- to five-gallon pot, are easier to plant, easier to maintain to the point where they have stabilized in their new homes, and, since they do not suffer from the shock of root pruning, they will thrive and grow faster, easily compensating for their small initial size within a few years.

About the Program

Small Trees Make Big Canopies is a new EMG program, initiated in the spring of 2020 by interns Alicia Martini and Pam Quanrud, to help expand the tree canopy in Arlington.  “Free Trees” seeks to give away hundreds of small (in size, as in saplings) native trees to help restore the region’s tree canopy.  The program also seeks to educate the public about our native trees, how to plant and care for them, and how the trees benefit us, our neighbors, and the wider environment.  Each tree in the giveaway has its own information card (available in English and Spanish) that covers tree siting and planting, tree care, growth pattern and expected size when fully mature.

Saplings in the program have been donated by your neighbors – including many Master Gardeners! If you have saplings (anywhere from six inches to three feet) you want to donate, fill out an I Have Saplings! Form  and we can work with you to harvest your crop of young trees.

If you would like a Free Tree, just fill out a Tree Request Form and we will be in touch with you, or attend a scheduled Free Tree event.  The first giveaways began on Earth Day 2020, and more than 60 small tree have already been placed in their new homes.  Tree recipients can sign up for watering reminders by email or text, to help ensure that the trees survive their critical first years.

Tree Giveaway Dates

Due to Corona-19, we have had to cancel large public giveaways.  These Free Trees are still available, however. Please submit a Tree Request Form!

Future Dates – once local and state guidelines change, we will make trees available at public events.

Species of Trees Available

The different species of trees available are listed below.  All species are native to Virginia.

Tree Education Cards

Tree Education Cards – Spanish

Tree Care

Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria

Rules to Follow:

  • New trees should receive 1″ of water a week
  • If deer are nearby, consider protecting with a deer guard
  • Avoid volcano mulching

Tree Request Form


I Have Saplings! Form