Monday, December 7, 2009


Every so often you may notice spray paint marks on street trees and sidewalks. What do they mean?

The Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) whose mission is to establish a full population of street trees within the District and to assure those that those streets trees are maintained in a healthy and safe condition marks trees with spray paint to indicate to its crews what tree maintenance is scheduled for those locations.

Owners of underground facilities i.e. Washington Gas and Pepco use spray paint to mark facilities they own or manage before a homeowner or excavator digs or alters the ground. Miss Utility
, a one-call notification center, notifies subscribing underground facility owners of proposed excavation plans. (Before you dig, call Miss Utility. It's free and the law.)

Here is your cheat sheet for knowing what markings commonly used Feel free to use this info as an ice breaker at an upcoming holiday party.

  • Trunk marks in orange indicate a tree marked for removal.

  • Trunk marks in yellow indicate a female Ginkgo tree scheduled to be injected or sprayed to limit fruit production.
  • Curb paint marks the location for new street tree plantings. Spray painted dots are usually the size of an apple, color used to vary depending on the availability of the particular paint in the hands of the arborist. Older dots used to vary from green to yellow to white to red, but current marking is more uniformly done in fluorescent orange or pink.
  • Painted lines along the road, curb and grass, perpendicular to the road/sidewalk mark underground utilities. Yellow marks gas (Washington Gas), blue marks water lines and meters (DC WASA).

Have a concern why a certain tree or sidewalk is marked as it is? Contact the UFA at 311 or 202-673-6813 or Miss Utility at 800-257-7777 and ask them what type of work is scheduled, why and when.

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