Awesome Tree Box


I’ve recently been noticing how folks have been taking ownership and fixing up their tree boxes. This one is sweet. I normally don’t like the rocks but I think it works here in a sort of Japanese zen garden way. Do you think it works?

8 Comment

  • Unfortunately the lead abatement program (DCWASA digs up your yard – see the meter handhole in this garden – the beige disc is its cover – and replaces lead lines with copper up to your property line, at least to the meter) will doom this treebox garden. This property is about to get it as you can see the surveyor indicating paint. Has anyone gone through the process? I received word of it in a detailed mailing from DCWASA. They helpfully suggest that you “remove any favorite plants” during the process….

  • Turns out tree boxes make a big difference in filtering stormwater runoff and keeping it out of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. There’s literally thousands of empty tree boxes in DC; Call George Hawkins, head of DC Department of the Environment and tell him to plant more trees in these emtpy tree boxes. (202) 535-2600. Plus, trees look nicer than just plain ol’ dirt. DCWASA dug up a small portion of our lawn a few months ago. they put everything back, and the lavender and tulips returned this spring.

  • Another benefit of people taking (and affording to take) better care of their houses and surroundings. Now if only could get people from littering like crazy…

  • AngryParakeet,
    We went through the line replacement in Feb. It’s not that bad, only the plants immediately surrounding the handhole are in trouble, they don’t dig up your entire yard. So, I didn’t loose any plants-even the daffodils that were nearby popped up this Spring. Our water was only off one day. The street was a mess for several weeks, however.

  • jrudian wrote: “…Call George Hawkins, head of DC Department of the Environment and tell him to plant more trees in these emtpy tree boxes….”
    Please don’t call Director Hawkins. He’s a great guy, but Urban Forestry, which is part of Department of Transportation (DDOT), plants and maintains trees, not Department of Environment. This actually makes sense, if you consider that DDOT also is charged with maintaining sidewalks and the treeboxes.
    To request that a tree be planted in an empty box, call 311 and provide the location of the box. An address is best, but is not strictly necessary. Urban Forestry will come out and do a site assessment, plant the tree during the upcoming planting season (Fall-Early Spring), and may even provide some tools to help you water it. That last part is crucial, especially during the first two years.
    For more information, please see:

  • I had the exact thing Angry Parakeet mentioned happen to a tree box behind my house. When I moved in it was just a patch of weed. I gathered a bunch of old plants that neighbors didn’t want, bought some myself and over three years watched it grow into a nice patch of land amid a crappy sidewalk. Then one day I came home to find all of the plants smooshed to the side as if someone had peeled the whole thing back like a band-aid. Thanks Washington Gas.

    Regarding this tree box…one question: why add another walkway with a path? Is someone going to stop walking on the sidewalk and take a detour through the tree box? Why not plant some more flowers?

  • I have a problem with people who take over treeboxes. Not just the fact that they take public property but also they have a tendancy to plant large shrubbery and then put little fences around it. If anyone parks near one it makes it nearly impossible to get out of your car. Even with mature trees in non-customised treeboxes you can, at least pull up or back a little to open your car door. I parked near one these annoyances in Tenley and some woman came out of her house to give me grief for flattening her her plastic fence and overgrown obstruction. A year later the city tore it all up when they re-did the sidewalk and curbs.
    Bottom line is, if you want to be a gardener, be considerate of people who have to use the public space and decorate your own yard.

  • I love the crunchy sound that pea gravel makes.

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