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.

Urban Foresty Division of the DC Department of Transportation

Tree Space Beautification Best Practices
 (Capitol Hill Restoration Society)

Resources for Planting Trees on Private Property

Casey Trees

Casey Trees is a nonprofit that works to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of DC.  They have four tree planting programs:

  • RiverSmart Homes Program – have a tree professionally planted in your yard (a $300 value) for only $50.
  • Tree Rebate Program – get a rebate of up to $100 per tree that you add to your property.
  • School Tree Planting Program – they help plant trees on school campuses, with students serving as the primary planters and taking responsibility for the trees.
  • Community Tree Planting Program – they will work with community organizers to plant trees (10 or more) in large areas to make a neighborhood more welcoming and address any concerns such as flooding, noise pollution and lack of shade.  They provide the trees, tools, volunteers, and technical assistance. In exchange the organizers agree to care for the trees for three years.

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 for a Tree Box

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).

DC Tree Watering App | Community Assistance in Keeping Newly Planted Trees Hydrated

Through the DC Tree Watering App, launched in June 2017, DC residents can locate trees near them that need watering, tag trees they water, and upload photos of the trees being watered.

In addition, users can report trees in need of care (e.g., a tree has a beehive), and the DDOT’s Urban Forestry Division will review all reports to determine the best means of care for each tree.

The app also includes a story map with information about tree species found throughout Washington, DC.

For more information, read:  Trees Need Water in this Heat (and always) and Now There’s an App for That (, June 13, 2017)