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Protecting Trees During Construction

DDOT Design and Engineering - yellow hard hat,plans, pencil, and ruler on a drafting table

DDOT’s Urban Forestry Division (UFD) is in charge of planting, pruning, maintaining, and removing street trees lining the District’s streets. 

Trees are important to this city. They provide not only environmental and social benefits, but also aesthetic benefits and we are taking steps to make sure we protect them. As a result, UFD has updated the District's tree protection standards and renewed its commitment to enforce proper tree protection especially during construction.

Related Documents

Ornamental Street Tree Fence Specification

Ornamental street tree fencing provides a barrier to protect trees from hazards such as soil compaction and mechanical damage which can shorten their lifespan. This specification provides materials, fabrication, and installation method for the ornamental street tree fence and shall be used by engineers, consultants, and private developers to protect street trees and enhance the streetscape. The ornamental fence should be installed by a licensed contractor for DDOT approved streetscape improvement projects and must meet or exceed the following technical specification standards:

Related Document

Standard Specification for Highways and Structures

In the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) Bluebook for Standard Specifications for Highways and Structures is Section 611 Trees, Shrubs, Vines, and Ground Covers. This section is the primary reference for all tree removals, plantings, and protection methods for District projects. However, updates can be found in the Supplemental Specifications section. Other specific guidelines for District neighborhoods as listed below may supersede those contained in the bluebook. Additional tree-related references pertaining to trench excavations, sidewalk and driveway installations, and roadside improvements can also be found in the bluebook if needed.

Standard Drawings

In the District Department of Transportation (DDOT)'s Bluebook for Standard Drawings for Highways and Structures, refer to 600 Series, Section 4 for drawings specifically related to tree plantings areas.

Design and Engineering Manual

In the DDOT Design and Engineering Manual are the following tree-related chapters:

  • Chapter 8: Trees, Plants, and Landscaping
  • Chapter 14: Utilities Installation in Public Space
  • Chapter 47: Landscape Design Criteria for tree-related procedures and standards

Additional chapters pertaining to ADA issues, streetlights, sidewalks, and roadways may also apply.

Public Realm Design Manual

The DDOT Public Realm Design Manual is to be used as a supplement to both DDOT's Bluebook for Standard Specifications for Highways and Structures and the Design and Engineering Manual and should be applied to those neighborhoods in the District that do not have a specific set of guidelines pertaining to tree-related work.

Parking Lot Tree Cover Requirements

These requirements are contained within the District of Columbia Office of Zoning (DCOZ) Off-Street Parking Requirements (Chapter 21).


  • 2117.11 - Landscaping with trees and shrubs shall be provided for all open parking spaces provided on a lot where there are more than ten (10) open parking spaces provided collectively as an accessory to any building or structure. The landscaping shall cover a minimum of five percent (5%) of the total area devoted to parking, including aisles and driveways. The landscaping shall be maintained in a healthy, growing condition.
  • 2117.12 - The open parking spaces shall be screened from all contiguous residential property located in an R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5-A, or SP District by a solid brick or stone wall at least twelve inches (12 in.) thick and forty-two inches (42 in.) high or by evergreen hedges or evergreen growing trees that are thickly planted and maintained and that are at least forty-two inches (42 in.) in height when planted.

Pedestrian Safety and Work Zone Standards

DDOT's Pedestrian Safety and Workzone Standards regulate the temporary occupancy of public space during construction on both private property and public space. Refer to standards for Covered Walkways on Sidewalks for tree protection information during construction and the Covered Walkway Standard Drawings for specific construction details.

Related Document