Standards Set for Tree Boxes Throughout Georgetown

Courtesy of GGW.

There was one more topic from Monday’s ANC meeting that GM forgot to mention in the round up the other day: tree boxes. Besty Emes of Trees for Georgetown appeared along with representatives from Casey Trees and the District Urban Forestry Administration to discuss setting design standards for tree boxes throughout Georgetown.

When tree boxes are designed well, they can be a significant factor in the survival of a tree. What is a well designed tree box? It looks like the photo above. It’s 18″ high, it allows water to flow in and out of the box, and it’s at least a foot from the edge of the curb.

The height part of that can be somewhat controversial. Monday night Tom Birch voiced skepticism with the size of the boxes. In his words, they’re “offputting.”  The boxes defenders argued that while there is not a scientific certainty that 18″ is the perfect height, experience demonstrates that when the box is roughly that high, far fewer things make their way into the box. The most important things that stay out are dogs, whose “byproducts”, so to speak, are very damaging to trees (including “number one”, which many might not realize hurts trees-in fact it’s probably more harmful than “number two”).

In the end, Birch’s critique was not full-throated (he admittedly just wanted to vent a little) and he was willing to let a resolution pass agreeing to the boxes’ use. (GM’s a little hazy on what approval they were looking for since Trees for Georgetown has installed these before). Trees for Georgetown is able to get a bulk rate for the boxes from the district since they plant 40-50 trees a year (they install a box with every tree they plant). But even with the discount, the boxes are pretty expensive at $550 each (normally they cost more like $1,200-$1,500).

Birch encouraged Emes to try to vary the design from year to year so the boxes aren’t so uniform on every block. With all due respect, GM thinks this is actually a bad idea. Having multiple designs for the box on a block will look worse in his opinion. It would be like if we had three completely different styles of streetlights or sidewalk bricks on every block.

4 Comments

Filed under ANC

4 responses to “Standards Set for Tree Boxes Throughout Georgetown

  1. Bill

    I personally hate these things. How many people have had their passenger doors dinged up on them? Or if you park next to one coming back from the grocery store and find that your door is blocked?

    I am glad to hear that they actually do some good and aren’t simply decorative, though.

  2. asuka

    Variation in design would be great. Uniformity produces a suburban feel.

  3. Anon

    How do they plan on enforcing this? I like the variety, but i would love to get those that come too close to the curb removed. The back right fender of my car is ruined from those that overlap the curb. The north side of the 2700 block of P street has a few brick ones that are extremely damaging, not to mention ugly.

  4. Pingback: ANC Roundup: Keep It Down Edition | The Georgetown Metropolitan

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