Tree Boxes and Street Trees: DC Government Rules
Street Trees VS Private Trees
Street trees and tree boxes belong to the DC government. Typically, private property in Georgetown starts ten feet in from the street curb (“your” sidewalk belongs to the DC government). The DC government has a series of regulations about tree boxes, street trees, and “special trees” on private property.
DC Law Requires a Permit to Remove a “Special Tree” That Is On Your Own Property
Private property trees of 55 inches or more in circumference, which is equivalent to 17.5 inches or more in diameter, could require a Special Tree Permit. Read more about Special Tree removal here.
Tree Box Regulations
DC government regulations govern what can be done in tree boxes. Some highlights: Borders: No border, such as a fence or railroad tie, is permitted on the side facing the curb. Planting: Plants, such as flowers, must “have a shallow root system” and be less than 18 inches high. Removal: “A tree space beautification effort that is not in compliance with this section...may be removed with sufficient notice by the Department of Public Works.” Read more about the Tree Beautification Act by downloading a PDF file of the regulations here.
A more detailed set of rules about borders and fencing have been issued by the DC Urban Forestry Administration. Read more here.
Working with Street Trees: Get a DC Permit!
Anyone, residents and contractors alike, who work with trees within the Public Right-of-Way, must first obtain permission from the Department of Transportation and the Urban Forestry Administration. To plant, prune or remove a public street tree download, print and fill out the application here.
Tree Related Standards and Specifications
Learn about the DC government’s tree-related standards and specifications. These guidelines will enable engineers, consultants, and private developers to efficiently and effectively meet District policies and standards as they relate to tree removals, tree plantings, and tree protection methods. Learn more.
The District Government's Urban Forestry Administration
The District’s Urban Forestry Administration is part of the District Department of Transportation. Their website lists services, such as Special Tree Removal and Treatment of Female Ginkgo Trees, and gives a schedule for them. Learn more.