Trees & Trees Boxes

Trees for Capitol Hill

“Trees for Capitol Hill (TFCH) is a non-profit community group dedicated to restoring the tree canopy of the Washington, D.C. Capitol Hill neighborhood. As volunteers we work to help renew, restore, and refresh the diversity of trees that make Capitol Hill so pleasantly green.”  You can support TFCH by volunteering your time or making a donation at

DC Tree Regulations

  • Public Space Tree Permit is required to plant, prune or remove any tree in the public right of way between a sidewalk and a curb.
  • A Special Tree Permit is required to remove a tree between 44” & 99.9” in circumference.
  • Any tree greater than 100” in circumference is a Heritage Tree and cannot be removed.
  • Homeowners are legally responsible for managing property up to the curb.

Tree Space Beautification Best Practices
 (Capitol Hill Restoration Society)

Tree Boxes

As indicated above, homeowners are legally responsible for taking care of the space between their property and the curb, including any planting strips and so-called “tree boxes” – those areas between the sidewalk and curb designed for trees and plants.

The DC government will plant a tree upon request (see details below) but depends on homeowners to water them and request pruning:

“Those who go a step further and adopt a tree by watering and monitoring the health of specific trees in the first two years after planting, will receive free watering bags and instructions from UFA. One of the most effective ways a resident can improve the social, ecological and economic value of a neighborhood is to help ensure new trees thrive. In the first two years, these new trees need attention to get established. We ask residents to share that responsibility, and in the end we will all benefit from a beautiful tree canopy across the city.”  (DDOT website)

Call 311 or use the DC311 portal to request street tree services.

The DC government won’t provide any ground cover or other plants but homeowners are encouraged to provide and care for those at their own expense to help beautify the neighborhood.

For some design suggestions, including what to plant (and not plant), read Not Your Grandmother’s Tree Box:  How one Capitol Hill block is caring for its tree boxes (Hill Rag, July 2, 2014).

There are also a number of landscapers on the Hill that specialize in small gardens who can help.

Request a Tree

DC’s Urban Forestry Administration runs a tree planting season each year between November and May. All tree planting requests must be submitted by June 15 to be processed for the next planting season. Call 311 or use the DC311 portal to request a planting. is a website that helps you identify available tree boxes near you and describe the plot location in your request.

For additional information about the tree planting program, read Have an empty street tree box? Ask for a new tree now (Greater Greater Washington, April 25, 2015).