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‘Throwing Shade VA’ program offers incentives for planting native trees

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—Thanks to a new statewide initiative, Virginians can help improve the state’s ecosystems, meet a variety of landscaping goals, and save money.

Virginia Department of Forestry has teamed up with retail nurseries across the state to launch the “Throwing Shade VA” program this spring. Now through May 1, or while supplies last, shoppers at participating nurseries can access customer discounts of $25 on eligible native trees and shrubs valued at $50 or more. Nurseries are reimbursed for discounts with allocated state water quality improvement funds.

“We wanted folks to get a discount for taking the initiative to plant native,” explained Molly O’Liddy, DOF urban and community forestry partnership coordinator, who is managing the program.

By lowering the cost for purchasing native species, DOF officials hope to spread awareness of their environmental benefits and expand biodiversity in the state.

“The overall goal is to get more trees and shrubs in the Virginia landscape, which, in turn, provides so many benefits for water and air quality, wildlife and pollinators,” remarked Delaney Long, DOF urban and community forestry project coordinator, who is helping manage the program.

Trees improve water quality by filtering out pollutants, storing harmful greenhouse gases and reducing erosion. Native trees and shrubs that evolved in Virginia’s ecosystems also are more adapted to their natural environment than ornamental species, and more likely to thrive. They also provide essential food and habitat for wildlife.

“Whether it’s meeting aesthetic goals, attracting more wildlife or providing shade, you’re bound to find something that will fill your need just by learning more about Virginia’s native species,” Long said.

She added that expert staff at participating nurseries can help identify the right species and growing conditions for meeting specific landscaping goals.

“It’s always good to ask a lot of questions to make sure you’re planting the right tree in the right place,” Long noted.

Customers can receive a $25 discount on their purchase at a participating nursery by selecting a native tree or shrub with a “Throwing Shade VA” tag, scanning the QR code on the tag to record where the tree will be planted, and showing the cashier that the information on the QR code was collected.

Information collected from the QR codes will help track water quality improvement goals and allocate funding for additional planting projects across Virginia.

Project officials hope to continue the program and open applications to interested nurseries this fall for next spring.

For a list of participating nurseries and more information, visit


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