Greater Greater Washington

What trees are on your street?

Casey Trees used data from DDOT's Urban Forestry Administration to create a great interactive map of street trees:

Blue dots show maple trees, red dots are oak, pink elm, green sycamore, and yellow dots show all other trees.

Erik noted this in a Breakfast Links recently, but it's interesting enough to show in more detail. It's fascinating to see how most streets have one or two types of trees. In many neighborhoods the oaks line more of the major streets and maples smaller ones, though in some places, like Georgetown, there are many trees but almost no oaks.

Clicking on a tree also shows its size. A future improvement to the map might be to show larger dots for larger trees, to help people visualize the overall tree cover.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Ginkos need their own color! We need to know where they are so we can spray them to dry up their berries before they drop and make all our streets smell of sour milk and baby vomit.

by MDE on Apr 28, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport

Of course, this is only trees on DDOT streets. I find it a bit strange that there are seemingly no trees in Rock Creek Park or in people's back yards.

by Tim on Apr 28, 2011 1:17 pm • linkreport

@Tim, its a map of street trees. What I find remarkable is that there are whole blocks and contiguous blocks with not a single tree. Sad and hot.

by Tina on Apr 28, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

I wonder if Casey could harness social media to keep the map updated, perhaps in way similar to how Google allows you propose edits to Google maps.

For example, I note that the map excludes several trees on my block that Casey Trees planted just last fall.

by Mark Jordan on Apr 28, 2011 1:41 pm • linkreport

The very large tree in front of my neighbor's house isn't on here either, while the others on either side are. So it's definitely not 100% complete.

by David Alpert on Apr 28, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

No treest in Rock Creek and the Mall? Is that because that's NPS land? I think it's still DC though.

by Jasper on Apr 28, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport

Speaking of Ginkgoes, why the Hell is the city still planting new ones? I get that they're hearty, but there are plenty of other hearty trees that grow much faster, provide much more shade, and don't cost a ton of money to spray every year. A few weeks of brilliantly yellow fall foliage are not worth the drawbacks of Ginkgoes.

by TM on Apr 28, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

@TM -- there's a lady in the Upper West Side of NYC that collects them off the trees there. I think she makes jam or something. So, at least one person likes them.

by OX4 on Apr 28, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

Very cool, though just to reaffirm what's already been said: it's definitely missing some... but considering the sheer volume of data, I don't intend that as any harsh criticism.

There are a number of cherry blossoms right outside my window, yet I don't see a single one denoted... instead my block just looks like a dead zone; whereas in my (potentially biased) opinion: my block was among the most scenic in the neighborhood this time last month.

by Bossi on Apr 28, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

@TM:

Male gingkos don't fruit. Only females. So the male one's are great. Of course, there's always a catch: male gingkos are able, on rare occasions, to turn into female gingkos.

Also, and this is a little-known fact, but the DDOT's Dept of Urban Forestry actually has a female gingko mitigation program, whereby if you get enough signatures from homeowners on your block, they'll completely eradicate a certain number of female gingkos and replace them with males.

I might add that I know from first hand experience that pursuing this option is so, so, so worth it.

by oboe on Apr 28, 2011 2:27 pm • linkreport

I've seen an Asian couple collect them off the trees in my neighborhood too, but from what I recall, you're really not supposed to ingest the seeds of Ginkgoes that have been sprayed.

by TM on Apr 28, 2011 2:30 pm • linkreport

Casey trees has a map of their trees too (I.e., planted with their funds), and which shows tree cover.

http://www.caseytrees.org/geographic/maps-tools/viewer/index.php

You can add your own trees as well (zoom in and the "add tree" button becomes active).

by ah on Apr 28, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

@ah

As well as our "big map" that you linked to, we also have a map on our website which displays trees planted by Casey Trees:

http://caseytrees.org/geographic/maps-tools/casey-trees-plantings/index.php

The Casey Trees Plantings Map functions similarly to the DC Street Trees map that David Alpert posted above, featuring Google Street View for trees.

by Oliver Pattison on Apr 28, 2011 3:08 pm • linkreport

DC Dept. of Forestry just planted 10 on my street in the last month of various types. Casey may see lots more tree on another scan.

by Don Ford on Apr 28, 2011 3:55 pm • linkreport

Ginkgo seeds are popular with the Chinese culture. They collect bags and bags of the seeds, remove the flesh and roast the seeds to be eaten.
It would also be interesting to know the locations of the tallest tree and possibly the oldest living tree in DC.

by Brian Gober on Apr 28, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

Whatever the data source, the street trees map is not very up to date. 3 were planted in front of my house and my neighbors' last summer--not showing.

by ah on Apr 28, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

Free Gingko Biloba

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 28, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

and yet another good argument against these massive underground parking garages is that they lower the ground water level making it harder to establish replacement trees.

Washington used to be promoted as the "City of Trees".

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 28, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

I am the GIS Specialist at Casey Trees, and I made this map.

A few things:

1. Google Maps does not allow for scalable sized dots, which is unfortunate. That is a good suggestion though, David Alpert.
2. This map only contains street trees, which are planted and maintained by UFA, so there are no park, private property, or Casey Trees plantings.
3. 26% of UFA street trees have not been visited by a UFA arborist since 2006 (they manage over 150,000 trees), so lots of data are out of date.
4. This dataset was downloaded from UFA in late 2010, so recent plantings will not be on here.
5. People make mistakes, so it's not surprising to find errors in this dataset. There are several trees on my own street which are not on this map, though they are old enough that they should be.
6. Glad people are enjoying this map and that there is a dialog about it on here. It will be updated as UFA releases new datasets. This is the link for the map in its original form http://www.caseytrees.org/geographic/maps-tools/tree-map/index.php . Feel free to embed it in your own site.

by Michael Potts on Apr 28, 2011 5:13 pm • linkreport

One other problem is that when we lose mature trees, DC (with Pepco's encouragement) is replacing them with flowering fruit trees, thus further losing the shady tree canopy that characterized our city and which provides cooling (and energy saving) summer shade. DDOT's transportation decisions make it worse. Last night, DDOT stunned McLean Gardens residents by announcing that they plan to widen Idaho Avenue to accomodate Giant trucks and other traffic to the Cathedral Commons development in Northwest. This will involve taking down a number of mature, large oak trees that provide shade on Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues. This project was sold as transit oriented development, but now DDOT wants to widen the street and take out the shade canopy. Sad.

by Sarah on Apr 28, 2011 5:19 pm • linkreport

This map is missing the potted tree inside my apartment! :) Very impressive work, Casey Trees, and I wish y'all the best in expanding and updating it.

by tom veil on Apr 28, 2011 10:42 pm • linkreport

Tom Coumaris is correct. We used to be the city of trees. No amount of uploading fun techy things to the internet will bring that back. There's been a loss of knowledge, and it shows.
Also, and this is a little-known fact, but the DDOT's Dept of Urban Forestry actually has a female gingko mitigation program, whereby if you get enough signatures from homeowners on your block, they'll completely eradicate a certain number of female gingkos and replace them with males.
Unconscionable. Unacceptable. (And not entirely accurate.) According to the UFA rep I talked to, the ENTIRE street (not "enough signatures"), EVERYONE, must agree that the tree(s) must come down. I've lived adjacent to a ginko-lined street half my lifetime. No problem. Yes, Washington used to be the city of trees. Now we are the city that tears down trees.
One other problem is that when we lose mature trees, DC (with Pepco's encouragement) is replacing them with flowering fruit trees, thus further losing the shady tree canopy that characterized our city and which provides cooling (and energy saving) summer shade. DDOT's transportation decisions make it worse. Last night, DDOT stunned McLean Gardens residents by announcing that they plan to widen Idaho Avenue to accomodate Giant trucks and other traffic to the Cathedral Commons development in Northwest. This will involve taking down a number of mature, large oak trees that provide shade on Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues. This project was sold as transit oriented development, but now DDOT wants to widen the street and take out the shade canopy. Sad.

by Sarah on Apr 28, 2011 5:19 pm

Sad indeed.

by Jazzy on Apr 29, 2011 6:55 am • linkreport

@Jazzy,

I've lived adjacent to a ginko-lined street half my lifetime. No problem.

I've lived next door to a gentleman with untreatable face cancer. No problem.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

by oboe on Apr 29, 2011 9:14 am • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris:
Would you have any links or documents you could point me to which shows the groundwater level is lowered? I ask not to refute but because I'm very interested in street trees and would like to know more...

@Jazzy:
Not just DC seems hell-bent on cutting down trees. It's epidemic everywhere I turn. Like many municipalities I have visited, the city I live in in the greater DC region has an arborist who is very, very efficient at cutting down trees but not so efficient at replacing them. Our tree canopy has dramatically fallen over the past 30 years. But it's not just the arborists fault as a lot of construction has occurred over that time too.

by EZ on Apr 29, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

And yet there are more environmentalists and (seemingly) arborists than ever! I am not sure I understand it. Is it that we want instant responsiveness for everything now? Is there an app to cut that tree down? Or is it that municipalities fear getting sued so instead of doing the right thing like regular pruning and maintenance (there is no maintenance budget), they just take the damn thing down altogether. It's a strange, frustrating mentality.

by Jazzy on Apr 29, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

Jazzy,
My experience was that it took me nine months and meetings with multiple levels of city government including the city manager to get 30 street trees planted on my block. Everyone I talked with from the actual guys planting the trees to the arborist to the city manager and council was happy and supportive of this project.

So why'd it take nine months? My opinion is that in my particular city (an inner ring suburb of DC) the arborist is overworked, underfunded and not a good organizer - he's got great skills but running a large department is not one of them. Planting a tree involves multiple steps - site selection, tree selection, scheduling the planting and then care of the tree for 2-3 years minimum. Removing a tree is a simple 2-step process - identify the tree to be removed, write a work order.

Also, people call the city fast and often when a tree looks dead (read: dangerous and will fall on a car) but few to no one calls to "complain" about a lack of trees on their street. The squeaky wheels get the attention and so the number of trees goes down...

I've had several newer residents on my block comment that one reason they chose to buy on this block was the number of trees. It reflected, to them, a more beautiful environment and residents who care more.

by EZ on Apr 29, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

There's a newly-plated DDOT tree that blew over a few weeks ago. It's still alive (and blooming!), but needs to be righted.

Tweeting and emailing them doesn't seem to have had any effect. Sad, too, because the tree will almost certainly die if it's not corrected soon.

Also, my block has NO street trees on it. Who can I write to fix this travesty? (I'm serious.)

by andrew on Apr 29, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

EZ- I don't have any ready links but it's because in many areas below the escarpment (Florida Ave) there's so much ground water that sump pumps have to be installed to have a garage 2 stories deep. Waterproofing the concrete walls and floor usually isn't enough. Just as with any sump pump, the area close around that 2 story underground garage also has it's ground water level lowered. Young replacement trees instead of having to send roots down 5 or 10 feet to hit water, have to go down 20 or 30 which is hard to reach before the replacement tree dies.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 30, 2011 4:57 pm • linkreport

We love the canopy on the Capital Crescent Trail so much that we want the Purple Line alignment somewhere other than the Trail.
Clear-cut 20 acres inside the Beltway and lose a forest forever?
If you love how green our area is, please support Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail - www.SaveTheTrail.org

by Ajay Bhatt on May 1, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

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