Boxes under the tree(s)

These are not boxes you’ll find under your Christmas tree, or ones you’ll see wrapped in shiny paper.  We’re talking about the boxes around street trees near construction sites throughout the City.  These boxes serve a purpose: to help protect Seattle’s trees.  A closer look at the green “protect tree” placards will show you the detail about these boxes. They can be made of plywood, steel posts and orange construction fence, or even construction fencing attached to a PVC frame.  The specific type is determined by the site and is specified by SDOT Urban Forestry.

The purpose of these boxes is to draw attention to the importance of the critical area immediately around the tree.  While the plywood box does provide a little more substantial protection for the trunk, these boxes are meant to be more of a physical reminder that the tree is to be protected.  These boxes also provide a buffer to prevent materials from being stored in the critical root zone and prevent physical impacts that would otherwise damage the trunk.  Without these boxes the results could range from heavily compacted soil that can kill roots, to trunk wounds that could affect the health and vigor of the tree for years after construction is complete.  These tree protection standards have been presented by SDOT at numerous conferences over the years, and have even been used as a model by communities throughout the US.

Whether the project is related to private development or a City funded project, Arborists from SDOT Urban Forestry are involved in assessing trees adjacent to construction sites.  While retaining every tree is not possible, the goal is to protect as many as possible.

While it isn’t exactly a “gift”, we think protecting the canopy we already have is a pretty great thing.