Welcome to the John S. Ayton State Tree Nursery

Photo of the fields at the nursery and Forest Service logo.We produce millions of tree and shrub seedlings each year for reforestation and other plantings across Maryland and Delaware. We’ve been in the tree business for over 100 years, with our first nursery established at College Park in the early 1900’s. We are now located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore near the town of Preston and look forward to furnishing planting stock for many years to come.

Growing seedlings requires attention to nature’s schedule. Seed is harvested during late summer and the fall. Planting occurs during the fall and spring. We harvest and ship seedlings from late February to early May. All spring and summer we are watering, fertilizing and weeding the seedlings. It’s a never ending cycle of renewal that results in healthy, vigorous seedlings being planted across the state.

Whether you want to reforest timberland or create a windbreak, improve wildlife habitat or just enjoy the feeling of planting trees, we hope we can serve you.

Richard Garrett
Nursery Manager

Forest Stewardship

Forest and concern about our woodlands...pride in our ability to wisely manage our forests today and benefit from them tomorrow as well...recognition of the value of our forest resource.

Photo of forest courtesy of R H WiegandThousands of individual landowners can contribute to the future environmental quality and economic stability of Maryland by managing forest land according to a resource conservation plan. Ninety percent of Maryland's forest land is owned by private woodland owners. Forest land is one of our greatest natural resources and if taken care of, can offer long term benefits for everyone. Private landowners are encouraged to practice forest stewardship and leave the land and its resources in better condition for future generations. Managing forest resources ensures the continuation of many forest benefits including improved water quality, wildland species and habitat diversity, recreation, timber, aesthetics and air quality. A well thought out resource conservation plan helps landowners identify and recognize the value of their forest land and better predict the effects of any resource activity. Private and public forestland can be certified as sustainable, recognizing and rewarding good stewardship. Lands certified as sustainable forests are eligible for green forest products markets and emerging ecosystem services markets.

Forest Products Utilization and Marketing

Nearly all of the forestland in Maryland is capable of growing trees suitable for wood products. Only about 10% of the forestland is held in reserves where trees are not removed for use. These lands include parts of State forests, designated wildlands, and urban forests. Harvesting and land use change can and has occurred across the remaining 90% of the land, but annual wood growth is more than annual wood removal and has been since 1952. In fact, Maryland’s forests now contain more large trees with increased volume than they did at the turn of the century.








Watersheds and Forest Management

A stream running through a forestThe Maryland Forest Watershed Management Program was created to answer the question: How can forests improve watershed health? Forests are the least polluting land use, a mainstay for producing clean water and viable wildlife habitat, and a major factor in urban quality of life. Expanding our forest area can reduce nutrients in our streams and the Chesapeake Bay, a fundamental step in restoration. Targeting forests to sensitive areas, such as streamsides, shorelines, seeps, steep slopes, erodible soils, or headwater areas, can prove particularly beneficial for water quality and riparian and aquatic habitat.

Other major forestry programs, stewardship, fire, urban, and health, are integrated into the watershed program. Stewardship efforts support expanding and maintaining forest in a sustainable condition. Fire efforts reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire that can harm water quality. Urban efforts expand trees in built environments where they play key roles in mitigating stormwater flows, reducing heat island effects, and reducing air pollution. Health programs minimize risk of wide-scale defoliation or tree dieback that can release surges of nutrients, degrading water quality in the short term. Forest utilization efforts include support for Best Management Practices, necessary and effective for avoiding watershed impacts from forestry operations.

Forest Resource Planning

The Forest Resource Planning Program is the strategic planning part of the Maryland Forest Service. This group of professionals is planning for and supporting sustainable forestry in Maryland.

Forest Conservancy District BoardA leaf.

For additional information on all Forestry Board activities or to access local Board web sites, visit the current Association website

Maryland's advocates for trees and forests since 1943
Maryland’s 2.6 million acres of forest land serve the needs of many. Our forests improve water and air quality, provide wood, wildlife food and shelter, recreational opportunities and beauty. As demands on our forests increase, people pressures threaten our woodlands. Maryland is fortunate to have a network of individuals who serve voluntarily on Forestry Boards as advocates for our forests with an eye to the future.