New Tree Planting Season Has Begun, but Not All Streets Get Trees

New tree in front of 3641 Georgia Avenue.

The arrival of November heralds the start of street tree planting season. From November to May, DDOT Trees will plant at least 3,540 street trees citywide in all eight wards. I’ve already begun to see new street trees planted in empty tree boxes around the neighborhood.

In looking at DDOT’s interactive tree map, there will not be a lot of new trees planted in Park View this year — and for a good reason. Like other residents in the area, I’ve worked hard to report empty tree boxes to DDOT over the past few years and DDOT has been very responsive in planting them. Street trees are not only attractive, but they help keep the neighborhood cooler in the summer and make for a more walkable community. In speaking with dog owners, I know there are some streets — such as Warder — that are avoided in the summer for no other reason than they do not have any mature trees providing shade and as a result are simply too hot for people their pets.

The ultimate goal is to have a community full of mature trees where residents would only need to report the occasional dead tree for removal and replacement.

Map showing street trees in Park View, as well as the neighborhood’s street tree desert.

Yet, as was pointed out to me by a resident on Newton Place and anyone who has walked the community can tell you, not all of our streets are equal. There are many streets in the area — primarily where development first took hold ca. 1904 — that simply do not have trees and have no dedicated place to plant them. Perhaps these streets developed this way because the Soldiers’ Home was open to the community at the time. It’s hard to say. But as the Soldiers’ Home grounds are generally closed to the public and have been since the 1950s, now would be a good time to study their treeless nature and see if trees can be added.

The north side of the side walk on the 500 block of Lamont is more than wide enough for a few tree boxes.

Off hand, I can think of a couple of different ways that trees could be added to some of these block. For instance, the 500 block of Lamont Street has a very wide sidewalk on the north side that could easily accommodate two or three tree boxes. Warder Street, on the other hand, could have tree boxes added to the no parking areas at the cross walks. This would have the added bonus of making the street appear visually smaller which tends to make drivers slow down. On other streets, it might be possible to eke out a foot or two from one side of the street without any loss of parking.

What is ultimately needed is engagement between the community and DDOT to identify what can be done and where residents would like to see more trees. I’m sure Park View is not the only neighborhood that contains a tree desert. With the variety of options and solutions needed to address this, it would make a great small scale pilot program for the District in how to green up existing communities.


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10 Comments on “New Tree Planting Season Has Begun, but Not All Streets Get Trees”

  1. Victor Says:

    Sorry, I’m going to be a grammar nazi here, because you hit on a pet peeve item of mine:

    It’s “eke out.” Not “eek.”

  2. Dave Says:

    And apparently not all people appreciate trees . . . the week of November 5 someone cut down a healthy young tree on the 700 block of Rock Creek Church Road. It was planted just last year or the year before last.

  3. Tree-er Says:

    According to their website, DDOT is apparently planting nearly 6500 trees, or about 3000 more than reported in this post. That is a lot of trees!

  4. Kyle Says:

    I would love to see trees added along 6th Street, between Newton and Otis. Unfortunately the sidewalks there are quite narrow, but perhaps DDoT can propose alternatives to the typical sidewalk tree boxes.

  5. JM Says:

    Given that there isn’t much room on public space for street trees, maybe an incentive program can be set up to encourage planting in front yards. E.g. pay residents $200 if they agree to “host” a tree and agree to water it. $100 up front, $100 if the tree lasts a year.

  6. a.s.c Says:

    I would love more trees along Newton Place but I also fear the street is too narrow. Is there a program for free tree plantings for residents?

    • Kent Says:

      I’ve been told there is and am trying to find out more about it. I’ll be sure to post when I have more details.

  7. […] plan to address a number of challenges that can’t be accomplished quickly, such as the tree desert we have in the heart of the […]

  8. […] meeting with DDOT and my longstanding interest in improving our streets, bike lanes, sidewalks, and tree canopy, I’ve begun a deep dialogue with DDOT asking for a wide range of statistics, funding details, […]

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