Know Your Trees: The Trees on Your Block

This week on Know Your Trees, GM wants to help you help yourself. Rather than discuss a particular species, GM wants to show you how to find out what trees are on your block.

It’s all well and good to read about trees on the Internet or through a guidebook. But it’s better to look at trees up close and observe how it changes throughout the year. And you’ve got a small textbook right outside your door.

Every block in Georgetown probably has anywhere between ten and twenty trees. GM recommends you try to identify each tree on your block (or if you want to start off slowly, just learn those on your side of the block). And while you could try your hand at identifying the trees based upon field guides, there’s a cheat sheet.

The cheat sheet comes in the form of a census maintained by DC’s Urban Forestry Administration. They have identified each and every street tree in the city. It’s available here. Simply zoom in to your block and click on the green circles that correspond to the trees on your block. A box like this will pop up:

It will identify the species of the tree, it’s last observed health condition, it’s size (GM believes this is the height in meters), and what ward it’s in.

A blue circle indicates an empty tree box. If you click it, you will led to an option to file a 311 request to have a tree planted there.

The tree information is not infallible. Sometimes it hasn’t been updated to reflect when a tree was cut down and/or another tree planted in its place. But it is mostly accurate. Once you establish what trees it thinks is on your block, head back to those guides and figure out if it’s correct.

Once you know the species of the trees on your block, you’ll be surprised at how you start to recognize those species around the city when before all you saw was just some trees. Before you know it, you won’t be able to walk down a street without identifying what trees are above.


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2 responses to “Know Your Trees: The Trees on Your Block

  1. kerlin4321

    This is a wonderful service, GM, thanks. I just saw that one sugar maple in front of my house and another across the street are deemed in only “fair” condition. I’ll try to find out why and do something if possible. I hope others do the same with their trees! And when these sugar maples are back to good health, maybe it will be time to make Georgetown Maple Syrup!

  2. Topher

    If they’re sugar maples and listed as “fair” then I’m sad to say it’s probably only a matter of time before they die. Maples, particularly sugar maples, can’t deal with DC’s hotter weather due to climate change. You can, however, give them a little more life if you water them deeply during hot spells and report them for tree trimming to 311 if you see dead branches.

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