Dear PoPville – How to get a tree box?

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you know or if any readers can tell me more about the process for getting tree boxes installed.”

We’ve tried to find this out in the past but really only talked about how to request a tree. You can request a tree here. But, does anyone know the process for getting an actual tree box. Does the city put them in or the resident?

20 Comment

  • Generally, residents put them in and pay for them. This requires permits.

  • Residents do it, or if in a commercial district, the BID or building owner does.

    City rarely if ever pays for it.

    Figure by the time it is permitted and installed you are going to spent about $1,500-2K to have one manufactured and installed.

  • I know a lady that said she got grants for them? Not sure how that works.

  • Can be done on the cheap by yourself. Home Depot sells some kits to help with it, or just get the wood and have it cut to your specific lengths. Fill with good quality soil. Plant. Boom.

    • Please do not pack soil against the trunk of a tree. You are only asking for rot by allowing excessive amounts of moisture to stand against a tree. The “volcano” mulch practice of many landscape companies is so horrible for trees.

  • Just don’t let the section along the curb be higher than four inches or people can’t open their car doors. Also, please maintain them so they don’t become a tall pile of weeds like my neighbor’s. A real pain when it’s wet and you need to get out of the car and to the sidewalk.

    • Hence the permits. This is public space. There are rules about clearance near the curb, etc.

      • Pssh, you’re such a rule follower. Think outside the box and take some initiative. A 20 lb sledgehammer, a couple dozen croquet wickets, and a couple bags of potting soil, a six pack of pansies, along with some old fashioned American ingenuity and gumption, and BAM! A tree box at the location of your choosing.

        • I think you are the person who put in the boxes in from of the Park Tower apts on 16th Street. The tree box hangs 2-4 inchesw over the sidewalk. Little annoyance.

  • Check with your communty association if you have one. In Logan Circle donations were collected for the tree boxes on 14th Street. Otherwiseits typically out of pocket and approximately $500.

  • Is this to request the box only to be installed or to request a tree box where there is currently only sidewalk?

  • I would just do it yourself, construct it reasonably, and make the space nice.

    Guerrilla planting style..

  • The Urban Forestry guy told me that they prefer people build exactly as shown in the picture above: 3 sides only and without using wood (allows water to drain from the sidewalk into the tree box.)

  • Hi I am the original poster. Somehow I don’t think the city will let me bust out sidewalk to create a plantable space. I assumed this had to go thru ANC? Has anyone actually done this?

    • saf

      The question is unclear – there’s no planting space in front of your house? No strip between the sidewalk and the street?

    • They absolutely will. My neighbor put in the most random “tree box” ever. Right in the middle of the sidewalk. I called the city and they said it wasn’t their problem.

  • There is no planted space/dirt. It is wide sidewalk (brick) from the houses to the curb on my block. We really need some trees.

  • andy

    You can make a seriously awesome space in a hell strip between the sidewalk and the street even without a treebox. Get some tough shrubs, perennials and grasses and it can look NICE!

    Like three itea virginica ‘henry’s garnet,’ ilex glabra, or morella pensylvanica, for shrubs, echinacea, hemerocallis, rudbeckia or monarda punctata for perennials, and panicum virgatum or schizachyrium scoparium or Sporobolus heterolepsis for grasses.

    That’s if you don’t already have a tree.

  • Contact DDOT’s Urban Forestrey Administration, they create tree boxes and expand existing ones and plant trees in public space all over the city. For example, they have some examples of projects they’ve done here:

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