Plant a tree in New York? The Parks Department shares the step-by-step process and best practices.


STATEN ISLAND, NY – New York City’s trees provide more than $100 million in benefits annually, with positive effects on health, heat reduction and flood absorption in all five boroughs.

However, planting and maintaining a tree, especially during construction, can be tedious. Here are some tips for city park department owners and developers on how to responsibly obtain permits to work on or around street trees, featured at a recent agency seminar:


The City Parks Department’s Tree Planting and Preservation Program was created in 2008 when the city’s Planning Commission passed an amendment to the city’s zoning resolution to create a tree planting and preservation requirement. preservation of street trees.

Its aim was to lessen the environmental effect of construction by planting new trees and preserving old ones, which provide much more tree cover than young trees.

Essentially, the change required one street tree for every 25 feet of frontage on a new building or major alteration. This could be accomplished by planting a new tree or protecting an existing tree.


When new work is completed, it must be filed with the City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) system.

A “Street Tree Checklist” must be completed by first requesting a review for an individual building plan, which helps show the DOB how many street trees are needed based on the amount of frontage of the building. building.

Once the initial application is complete, an acknowledgment letter will be sent by the City Parks Department

Typically, if existing trees are present, a city park department forester will then conduct a site visit to assess the condition of trees within 50 feet of the site and perform a risk assessment before issuing comments on the plan.

Once these comments have been adopted, an approved plan will be sent to the applicant. If there are no trees in the aforementioned range, a visit is not necessary.

Then applicants can meet zoning requirements by planting new trees based on individual projects or by paying to the city’s tree fund, which sets tree planting prices in each borough.

After a tree planting web form request is completed and the trees are planted in the ground, the parks department inspects the trees. If they meet city standards, the applicant will receive street tree approval.


To avoid project delays, the city’s parks department recommends taking care to plant trees correctly at first.

Finding a qualified contractor will avoid the majority of problems associated with tree planting. Yet being aware of best practices could mean the difference between a manageable process and costly delays.

Two-thirds of the burlap sack containing the trees should be removed before planting to ensure the tree has adequate growth capacity.

Trees also need to be planted at the right level to ensure their long-term health. Planting a tree too high above the surface can make it unstable while a tree planted too deep can smother the roots.

Quality mulch is vital for tree health, keeping soil moist and cool while providing organic matter and nutrients.

Plus, six-foot tree pruning for clearance allows trees to grow stably while using woven nylon fabric to stabilize the tree in its early stages.


The growth of the city canopy, a vital measure that reduces heat and provides outsized benefits to surrounding communities, is most strongly affected by the preservation of trees already planted.

Since it takes time for trees to reach this level, the city’s parks department maintains standards for protect existing trees.

Appropriate fencing around street tree beds during construction is one measure to mitigate adverse effects on street trees.

Additionally, the Parks Department establishes a “critical root zone” during an initial assessment to indicate where the tree’s most vital roots are. This area must be protected during construction.

To learn more about the processes of the City Parks Department, click here. More information is available here.

To attend an upcoming Parks Department seminar, click here.


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