Did you know that New York City property owners can request to have a free tree planted on their street? Among its many duties, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation maintains the city’s urban forest.
Requesting a tree is easy and costs nothing. That said, keep in mind the following:
- Timing. The Parks Department handles all requests on a first-come, first-served basis. In fact, more than a year could pass between the initial request and the planting. Note: All tree planting takes place during two planting seasons, spring (March 1 to May 31) and fall (October 1 to December 31).
- Location. A Parks Forester inspects each prospective site to make sure the proposed free tree will not interfere with the surrounding infrastructure. The inspection also ensures the suitability of the location in sustaining a healthy tree. For example, street tree planting guidelines specify minimum required distances from stop signs, hydrants, curb cuts, street lights, underground utilities, intersections and other trees. If the site is determined appropriate, the Parks Department will add it to “the list” and plant it during the next available planting season. (See above note regarding timing.)
- Type. Owners may suggest a specific tree type when requesting a free tree, but the final planting decision depends on the Parks Department. Their primary goal is to identify a tree that will thrive in the proposed spot and offer maximum benefit to the neighborhood.
Owners can request trees for existing empty tree beds, as well as for sections of paved sidewalk.
In addition, property owners can also plant their own trees. This option bypasses the current wait list and offers greater control over the species planted. Oh, you’ll also need a tree work permit. You can find information on that process on the NYC Parks Department website.
If you have the patience, check out the street planting guidelines above and start the process of getting a free tree with the Parks Department.