City Policy

Why do “street trees” matter?

The trees you see along the streets, between the sidewalk and the curbs are “street trees.”

Street trees define the character of neighborhoods, commuter routes, and avenues. Neighborhoods bare of street trees have lower real estate values.

Though just 144,000 of our city’s millions of trees,* street trees are crucial to lowering the “heat island effect” by which the air over tree-less paved areas stays hotter day and night. The air under trees is not only cooler but has more oxygen. So you are healthier walking, biking and driving along streets with rows of mature trees. Rain and snow are intercepted by the leaf canopies of larger trees, while their roots draw water into the ground. Streets with mature trees have less storm overflow and cost less to maintain.

The Urban Forestry Administration of DDOT – now d.Tree – is responsible for “establishing and maintaining a full population of healthy street trees within the District.” Its professional staff has increased; in recent years it planted about 5,000 new street trees per year, said Associate Director John P. Thomas at the Tree Summit in March 2010. The UFA’s count of 144,000 street trees is a huge improvement over a 2002 inventory that counted 102,000 street trees and a significant fraction in poor condition.

Restore Mass Ave was concerned

about the quality of street trees and poor planting, based on our “down in the dirt” work with ~200 street trees on Embassy Row and reports from other parts of town. We began a discussion with officials about the terms of contracts for street trees and oversight by UFA.

When city foresters proposed a new four-contract arrangement with better requirements for trees and care, we supported this change. We were delighted to learn in a January 2010 meeting that the new contracts have been awarded and work has begun.**

Results so far

A new company, C&D Tree Service Inc. of Vienna Va., won all four contracts and has begun service in the four areas. UFA officials also say C&D will purchase young street trees from Dennison Landscaping, in Fort Washington, Md., which grows the trees from seed! Becasuse these fragile young trees will be trucked just 12 miles into town they’ll have better chance of success; the past contractor trucked them from far away. The public can view where new street trees will be planted and removed using a schedule on the d.Trees site.




Restore Mass Ave Encouraged by New City Plans

January 27, 2011

The Dupont Current New contract may help health of trees

February 9, 2011










Each of the four contracts is for a smaller area, corresponding to the scale on which other cities successfully manage trees.







You can help

We urge people everywhere in DC to observe (and send photos of) digging, planting or construction that affects street trees. If you see something worrisome, call the UFA office 202 671-5133to report and get an email to send a photo. Useful links are on our DC Goals & Laws page.


We try to be a model

Restore Mass Ave

  • cares for hundreds of street trees, in projects advised by national experts and UFA arborists. See Street Tree Care.

  • engages owners of property on Mass Ave, including many embassies, to care for city street trees. Embassies are often delighted to help trees, to “green” our shared community. See Participants.

  • demonstrates how geospatial mapping or GIS can help you identify individual city trees and track progress. See our Map & Tour page.


**Here’s page of links to the four contracts (see Main Document) with attachment and four amendments (8/2, 8/2, 8/23, 8/30, 9/2, 9/9] . They should be found via the DC Office of Contracting and Procurement. searching for DCKA-2010-B-0219 Tree Planting Services. OCP main phone: 202-727-0252

Learn more about how to care for street trees at on our Tree Care page.


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