25 Comment

  • What country are you in that it is -9 because it is no where near that cold in D.C.

    You plant trees, shrubs, and some crop seeds in the winter as they are dormant and need a good deep freeze to start the growth cycle.

  • I’m not sure why the reader send the temperature in Celsius, but since it really doesn’t get all that cold in DC it’s fine to plant trees most of the winter.

  • Nine degrees below freezing and -9 aren’t the same thing.

  • Pretty sure the answer is at least partially “we have to keep our crews busy”.

  • General Grant Circle

    To make them sturdy! Only the strongest survive! But actually planting during winter, when the trees are dormant, help them establish new roots and is recommended for areas where summers can be extreme (like here) a quick Google reveals

  • Trees are planted in late fall/winter/early spring because trees do just fine in cold, it’s heat and drought that are more likely to hurt them.

  • As others have said, this is a better time (for the tree) to plant than in summer. Now whether it’s a better time for the tree crew, I don’t know. But planting in cold weather is not harmful to the tree.

  • Because they are so far behind! I don’t know if you checked recently, but DC took down a tree in front of my building and the anticipated new tree resolution is 760 Business days

    • I think they automatically give themselves a long lead time, just to be safe. When I requested a tree, it said something like a year and and a half, but it was done in less than six months (as soon as the next planting season rolled around.)

      • Yes, and they plant between October and March. If you request a tree in July, it’s usually too late to get it scheduled for the next tree season, so you’re most likely looking at a 15-20 month wait.

  • Is it “DC” planting the trees? Or Casey Trees, which does most of the tree work for the District, and which is a remarkably well-run, well-informed organization? If the latter, I’d advise you to trust them and not worry about it.

    • Amazing that it takes longer to note that a contractor does it than to note it’s better for the trees to do it now rather than in the hot humid days of July. I wonder how long before someone points out that a lot of these trees (regardless of when they are planted) die, which is probably true when you transplant a tree.

    • The trees in this pic are street trees which are planted by DDOT UFA. Casey trees does the planting on private property.

      These guys were out planting at my kids school this morning (the second picture above). I felt so bad for the tree crew. They looked so cold.

    • Casey Trees does not typically plant street trees. The previous commenter is correct that this is DDOT UFA (Urban Forestry Administration) or at least a contractor for UFA.

      There are some rare exceptions to that street tree rule when it is rolled into one of Casey Trees’ plantings. CT does not, however, only plant of private property. Many of the CT plantings are in DC Parks, schools and even in National Parks.

      While they do great work, CT does not do most of the tree planting in DC. UFA plants scores more trees in DC every year. In addition to supporting city canopy goals, most of CT focuses on building awareness by hosting volunteer lead plantings; equally important but crews of professionals can plant a lot more trees than volunteers can. For an example, go to on of the CT plantings and ask one of their awesome crew members for help. Those guys can dig!

      Also, as many others have mentioned, winter is a great time to plant many species of trees! Less hardy species (fruit trees for example) wouldn’t do so well, but these street trees will do just fine. I doubt the ground is all that frozen yet either, so it won’t impede root growth.

      Source: Casey Trees Volunteer

  • Occasionally, the government actually knows a thing or two more about what their doing than a random internet commenter! No matter how unwise many decisions appear, governments generally have someone giving out orders that at least has a graduate degree in some related field. You may not always agree with them, but its never been my experience with government that they do things hastily and without analysis.

  • Same reason they sodded our tree boxes when it was 115 out. The whole street died within a week.

    • The city placed sod in your treeboxes?? What neighborhood are you in? Most of the treeboxes on my street are full of weeds.

    • The all-time record high temperature in DC was 106. In 1930.

    • Except, as many people have already written, winter is the best time to plant trees. They go dormant in the fall, you transplant them in the winter, they usually wake up happy in the spring.

  • My question is why they planted trees on the 700 block of Lamont St NW last week right in front of the recently-defunct Alsco factory, where construction on hundreds of new residences will begin in April — with a project that big, and the building right up against the sidewalk (i.e. not set back at all) I can’t imagine the entire sidewalk right in front won’t be affected., no?

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