The District of Columbia, also known as the Nation’s Capital, lies in the central eastern region of the United States near Maryland and Virginia. Washington D.C., although not a state, does have its own climate and weather patterns, similar to those of the surrounding areas. Washington D.C. identified the Scarlet Oak as the district’s tree in 1960. The Scarlet Oak is known for its red fall foliage. Native to the eastern United States, the Scarlet Oak is a fast-growing tree that prefers loamy-sandy soil, slightly acidic in nature. This medium-sized deciduous tree can reach almost 90 feet tall and can be identified by its “c-shaped” lobes on its thin leaves. Although this popular ornamental tree can bring the D.C. grower fall beauty, there are several other species from which to choose when planting in the Nation’s Capital. Due to its small size, distributed climate zones, and high population density, the smart D.C. grower will need to consider the following:
- Soil Type
- Average Precipitation
- Growing Zones
- Weather Damage
Best Trees for the District of Columbia Read about the specifics for the D.C. region in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
- Royal Empress Trees
Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
- Bloodgood Japanese Maple
Ideal for adding color, providing ornamental beauty, and no-hassle maintenance.
- Arbequina Olive Tree
Ideal as potted plants, these trees are adaptable and edible.
- Arapaho Crape Myrtle
Ideal for spectacular colors, ornamental beauty, and easy maintenance. Fast Growing Privacy Trees in the District of Columbia The Washington District of Columbia is renowned throughout the United States as a comfortable, healthy, and safe state in which to abide. It is no wonder that D.C. residents may notice new homes being built nearby, new developments and shopping centers popping up, and highways carrying loud cars laid in bulk near their home. Planting trees along yard perimeters will add both privacy and beauty to the Washington D.C. yard. Although there are many options from which to choose, in Washington D.C., a planter cannot be mistook by the American Holly. Growing throughout the United States, American Holly is adaptable, fast-growing, and colorful. Reaching at least 15 feet in height, the American Holly forms dense evergreen walls reminiscent of hedge mazes. In addition, D.C. residents can also choose from the Leyland Cypress or Nellie Stevens Holly to form the perfect private paradise. Climate Washington D.C. falls within the humid subtropical climate region. The area experience four distinct seasons; spring and fall are warm, winter is mild to cool, and summers are hot and humid. In summer, temperatures average at 80°F during July days, and 66% humidity often accompanies the heat. The highest recorded temperature is 106°F in 1930. The city averages around 37 days above 90°F. Winters are cool, although the 38°F temperature averages above freezing. Still, nights can drop below freezing. The lowest recorded temperature in the city is -15°F in 1899. Soil Type Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. The District of Columbia’s soil consists of sandy, loamy soil, often rich with minerals from flooded areas. Regardless of the property’s location in The Nation’s Capital, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type. The squeeze test is a tool pedologists (soil scientists) use to determine the type of soil in a given area. Remove the first layer of soil and grab a handful of damp (but not wet) dirt. Then, squeeze the soil in the palm of your hand. When you open your hand, the results will help you to determine your specific type of soil. 1. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. If you poke it, the soil will still hold its squeezed shape. You have CLAY. 2. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. However, when you poke it the squeezed soil collapses. Congratulations, you have LOAM. 3. The soil collapses as soon as you open your hands. You have SAND. Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees. Average Precipitation Washington D.C. receives a moderate amount of rainfall, much of the annual precipitation falling from May to September. The annual average precipitation totals 40.78 inches, and two or more inches fall every month. Despite its subtropical location, Washington D.C. can receive snow, though usually only during Nor’easters every four to six years. Annual snowfall totals near 15 inches on average, accounting for these heavy blizzard years interspersed with lighter snow. Irrigation High population affects the Washington D.C. area, and as such, irrigation can be an important tool for managing and dispersing water appropriately to plants in need. Newly planted trees are specifically at risk for under-watering. The stress of transplantation has a negative effect on the tree, and providing healthy amounts of water, sun, and nutrient matter can be an effective way to ensure the new tree’s success. Growing Zones The District of Columbia has two unique growing zones, unsurprising for a small region. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive. Washington D.C.’s two zones move from southwest to northeast. The southern zone 7a is warmer, and temperatures here rarely drop below 0°F. A larger percentage of the state, north of the areas directly adjacent to the Potomac River, is in zone 6b. Here temperatures may drop as low as -5°F for extended lengths of time. Weather Damage As an inland area, the city of Washington D.C. is not as high risk for severe ocean-current related weather, although hurricanes, though weaker, usually track through the region. Flooding can be severe at times, with the low lying city adjacent to the Potomac River. The floods have caused severe property damage in the Georgetown area. Thunderstorms can be severe, with high humidity and cooling evening temperatures, these storms will often hit the region on summer afternoons. Remember, trees are a strong defense against flooding, as the roots prevent soil erosion.