In 2007, officials launched MillionTreesNYC, an initiative with the aim of greening New York City through the planting and care of one million trees. While the city surpassed its goal in 2015, planting 1,017,634 trees by the year’s end, efforts to increase leafy canopy coverage across the five boroughs has not wavered since. With that said, if you’re a New Yorker who feels that your street could use a bit more greenery (ahem, Sean Lennon), getting a tree planted on your block is much easier than you may think. By simply filling out a request with the New York Parks Department, you can get a tree planted, for free, so long as the plot you have in mind is suitable for planting.
The rules laid out by the Parks Department are few but quite specific, mainly dealing with positioning; Additionally, you can’t request a tree be planted on private property.
Once you make your request, a designated Parks Forester will come out and survey the site you’ve chosen. His/her aim is to make sure that the tree brought out to your plot will grow safely, thrive, and provide the maximum benefit possible to your neighborhood. The Parks Department also takes request for specific species, though the Parks Forester will have the final say, and it must be on this approved list. And for those whose sidewalks lack tree beds, you can even request a tree for a paved sidewalk.
Photo by Anna Yatskevich via NextCity
After your tree is planted, the city will spend the next two years tending to it. This means that planting contractors will water (twice a week from May through October), weed, replace missing soil, and conduct any necessary pruning and replacement. They do ask that you help care for the new tree, which could mean watering, mulching, cultivating the soil, planting flowers in the beds, and installing tree guards.
The Parks Department is, however, quick to point out that the request process can take longer than a year. This is in part due to the volume of applications they receive (plantings are done on a first come, first serve basis) and the fact that trees are planted only during two seasons: spring (March 1 to May 31) and fall (October 1 to December 31). Inclement weather or unforeseen events will also cause delays.
- MIT’s new tree canopy map reveals New York City needs more greens
- After $10M lawsuit, Sean Lennon removes tree that damaged Marisa Tomei’s parents’ house
- Interactive chart reveals the diversity of NYC’s street trees