[Mintwood-place] Enlarged Tree Boxes along Kalorama Park on Columbia Road.
john.cloud666 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 17 17:12:17 EDT 2011
Dear DDOT Urban Forest people:
For the last eight years I have been caring for the little urban tree box rectangles of six trees alongside Kalorama Park on the sidewalk adjacent to Columbia Road. Two of the trees I planted myself-- one is a Casey Trees London plane tree planted through a cooperative project, the other is an elm, not sure of the species, which wind-seeded into my plot at the Kalorama Park Community Garden, which I transplanted into an empty box. I have protected the trees from tramping and dog abuse with what I could provide, which is sections of Casey Trees oak stakes used to make informal but effective stake fences around the perimeter of the tree boxes. I have amended the soil with leaf compost and myco-compost annually, and have a variety of annual and perennial plants growing in each tree box, including day lilies, tulips, French bearded iris, cannas, and ornamental amaranths. I would be happy to introduce you to my tiny "urban forest" any time, and preferably
before you do any work on the tree boxes. If you would like, I'll gladly send photographs of each tree box in its present state of autumn color.
I got your email addresses from the document:
105_Kalorama Park Resident letter from DDOT re tree box expansion -10-6-2011.pdf which I got through the local ANC-1C. Another document there, Scope of Work" etc. lists many tree box "addresses" on Columbia Road where tree boxes will be enlarged. I'm not sure if these correspond to the tree boxes I have been caring for, as Kalorama Park has no "addresses".
In any case, if DOT is planning to enlarge these tree boxes, that is good, but I would like to insure that you do it in a manner that does not damage or destroy the plants I have cared for for eight years. I would like to ask you or other relevant staff to contact me ASAP so I/we can find out both what I have done for eight years, and what your plans are, if they coincide for the same tree boxes.
I have read the DDOT pdfs and have a number of questions and concerns based on the specs:
(1) Tree box protection:
your DDOT Poster document shows an original small tree box and the larger expanded box. BOTH tree boxes, small and large, lack any kind of fence or other protection from trampling and dogs. None of your photographs on the Poster shows any tree box protection of any kind.From my direct experience of eight years working along Columbia Road, that is a sub-optimal solution. This is a highly trafficked section of Columbia Road in daytime and nighttime. Without some sort of protection along the box perimeter, people and dogs will simply walk on the soil. The trampled soil becomes so compacted that water pours off it like linoleum, limiting infiltration rates. Dogs will defile more of the tree box with feces and urine, which, with the lack of protection and soil compaction makes it difficult for any plants to grow, including the tree in the box. The differences between tree boxes with protection and without can be seem easily by comparison ot the nearly
identical tree boxes on the non-Park side of Columbia Road.
(2) Bark mulch:
Further, the enlarged tree box photograph shows a layer of bark mulch as the only top dressing on the soil. This is consistent with a plan to have no vegetation of any kind in the box except the tree, but this is entirely inconsistent with the species diversity requirements for a true "urban forest" and is also incompatible with the esthetics of the adjacent Kalorama Park, where plants of many kinds are desired. Bark mulch is used as a top dressing as a herbicide, literally, to prevent any seedlings from growing. A true "urban forest" needs leaf compost and other amendments.
(3) Ornamental tree fences:
I have no idea whether or not your project will include making "Ornamental Iron Fences" for the expanded tree boxes. Could you please tell me? Your document Tree Fence Specifications might work in some environments, but not at all along Columbia Road, as it has no protection for the tree box along the street itself. People getting in and out of cars will trample soil and plants without protection, but will not, or at least less, with protection. When tree boxes are protected, then people can either park the cars a bit farther from the curb or utilize less space getting in and out of the cars. Especially if the tree boxes are greatly enlarged, then soil without protection on the street side will be greatly trampled.
Anyway: I can be contacted via this email, or my phone 202-277-4931. Please let me know ASAP what your plans are for the tree boxes alongside Kalorama Park on Columbia Road.
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