Dear PoP


“Greetings, PoPpers.

Who manages the distribution of love to the treeboxes and little patches of green on our sidewalks? If you look West of 16th street there are cute railings, grass, and all is generally well manicured. Logan Circle is more of the same. Then there’s Columbia Heights where things are dire.

Does the city maintain these? How are some gorgeous and some are craptastic? If it is the city how do we show the ugly streets of Columbia Heights some much needed horticultural love?”

Anyone know who is in charge of fixing up treeboxes?

10 Comment

  • I think sometimes DC (and the Casey Foundation) helps with planting trees but otherwise this is a task owned by the neighbors. Step up and give your tree boxes some love, Columbia Heights!

  • As a former Dupont resident, and now Logan resident, I can tell you that all is not well with all of our tree boxes either, but we probably do fare better than CH. I’m sure the practical answer has to do with tax revenue–and probably not really from residential real estate taxes, but retail and office tax receipts. So, with DC USA now open and generating tax revenue for the city, I’d say that help should be on the way for Columbia Heights (though the fringes–just like Dupont and Logan–may not see as much routine maintenance). A BID (Business Improvement District, which carries extra taxes for the businesses within the district) would probably help as well, but that would be limited to just the commercial corridors…which is what most people remember seeing from the parts of the city in which they don’t live (not to diminish or put down your concerns, just saying that grass is always greener and whatnot).

  • the city does not maintain or water anything in the boxes. the city will plant a tree and that’s it. it’s up to you to show some love for your local planting strip.

  • Yeah, the city plants the trees – sometimes right in the middle of your manicured planting strip!! This happened to our neighbor – the city came by, pulled up his plants, plopped a tree there and moved on, without taking any care of the pulled up plants!
    And while I love the fact that we have a ton of trees on our street, I don’t understand why they’re not watered or trimmed by the city….if you plant it, you should take care of it. I’ve seen quite a few trees that were city-planted just up and die of neglect – doesn’t sound like good budget control to me. And what about trimming? We have a huge Oak tree in front of our house next to the street – and some of the branches need trimming, before they fall on someone….I don’t have the equipment to do this….what to do???

  • Talk to your local neighborhood association. They usually try to unofficially assign boxes to nearby houses. Usually a word from them also causes tree to get planted. You can also get free water bags at certain times of the year to make watering new trees easier.

  • Hopefully your neighborhood association (be it a BID or MainStreet, or in our case both) is better to your tree boxes than in Adams Morgan…Our MainStreet can waste a $30,000 grant from the BID to design and supposedly distribute business directory but they can’t do anything about the tree boxes….grrrr…

    But as everyone else has pointed out, the tree boxes are the responsibility of the owners of the businesses/properties they are adjacent to, just like it’s your responsibility to shovel your sidewalk in front of your place, not just your own steps.

  • Doesn’t DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration take care of some of these?:
    I didn’t even know such an agency existed until I was wandering through a DC Gov’t building and saw a little paper sign announcing that a section of cubicle farm was such.

  • I was under the impression that tree box maintenance, regardless of who initially planted the tree/plants, is the responsibility of the homeowner, much like shoveling ice and snow in front of your house.

  • Tree boxes are owned by the city. DDOT’s UFA has a contractor who is planting trees throughout the city. Trees take priority over over plantings in designated tree boxes, and thus UFA has the right to remove over plantings. Tree box maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner. UFA’s budget was practically non-existent prior to Mayor Williams, but UFA will never have the resources to water, trim and plant trees in every tree box. However, UFA will plant trees in empty tree boxes and remove dead trees and stumps upon request via the City Call Center.

Comments are closed.