Soil Replacement Tested in Georgetown Tree Boxes

Flexi Pav soil on M St NW
Rachel Scola
Flexi Pav soil on M St NW

It’s out with the old and in with the new when it comes to the soil in a select few tree boxes around Georgetown.

Jonathon Kass of the Georgetown Business Improvement District says the group has been looking for an option that could fill the tree boxes that have high pedestrian traffic. In its search, the Georgetown BID found Capitol Flexi-Pave, an environmentally friendly and urban friendly pavement company.

Capitol Flexi-Pave touts its product as slip resistant, impact absorbing and good for both hot and cold weather. The pavement, according to Flexi-Pave, is made by combining recycled tires, stone and a binding agent, which creates a mixture that has replaced soil in, as of now, five tree boxes. Two tests are located on Wisconsin Avenue by Prospect Street and just north of the C&O Canal; another on Thomas Jefferson Street just south of M Street; two others on M Street, in front of the Old Stone House and in front of Clyde’s Restaurant.

The pavement offers a range of benefits. The soil that is now in tree boxes can prevent oxygen and water getting to the tree roots because of the abuse of being walked on every day. Tree roots breaking the surface can also be a safety issue to pedestrians. The new pavement creates a flat, easy-to-walk on surface that will not be destroyed by weather or foot traffic. At the same time, the pavement can absorb water and oxygen to maintain the tree which it surrounds and will not break if any roots become free and try to push up and out.

As of now, there is no set plan to fill all of the tree boxes. With an average cost of almost $1,000 per box and some boxes left best as is, filling in the tree boxes that get trampled daily is the priority. The Georgetown BID is exploring all its options with the Department of Transportation in the filling of the boxes.

Full community reactions and feedback is still being brought in on the already-filled five tree boxes. Capitol Flexi-Pave has 20 color options to choose from, an aspect especially awaiting feedback. Two of the filled boxes try to match the sidewalk brick; two match the dirt that was previously there; the newest in front of Clyde’s is a sand color.

There don’t appear to be any big cons in paving certain boxes, and the pros seem substantial. The BID will announce the result of its test in the months ahead.

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