Which flowers are recommended to plant in tree beds?
See the options for bulbs, plants for the sun and plants for shade.
How do I remove garbage from tree beds?
Read the city guidelines here.
How do I care for my NYC tree and tree bed?
Learn more here.
How do I get compost?
After turning food scraps, yard waste and fallen trees into compost, DSNY makes it available to residents, city agencies and nonprofits for use in gardening, soil mitigation, street tree stewardship, or habitat improvement projects. Learn more here.
How do I water my street tree?
Learn about watering your tree here.
Do you have any tips on caring for my tree?
Read our tips for mulch, compost, and soil maintenance here.
Recommended Instructional and Informational Videos
Healthy Soils Build Healthy Ecosystems - USDA Forest Service
Climate Change and Northeast Forests - Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Tree Guard FAQ
Do I need a permit to put in a tree guard in NYC?
Yes you do. It is an easy application to fill out and it takes about 5 weeks to get your permit approved.
Why do I need a permit?
A permit helps protect the home owner against trip and fall lawsuits (i.e. proper height and no pointy edges), allows cars room to open their doors, and protects the health of the tree (i.e. not too restrictive and allows water to enter the tree bed).
What specific standards need to be met to get a permit?
- Stand at a minimum of 18 to a maximum of 24 inches tall to the top rail. Tree grates are not allowed.
- Open around the perimeter. Nothing solid is allowed around the base of the tree guard. This includes solid metal lips around the perimeter of the tree guard, plastic liners, bricks or concrete walls.
- Have no sharp points
- Be fastened into the soil with stakes and not concrete
- Be anchored inside the bed not to the sidewalk
- Surround the perimeter of the tree bed. Granite pavers are permitted but must leave enough space so tree can grow for years to come.
- Have an approved NYC tree guard permit before being installed
- Are three sided
- NYC Parks & Recreation Department also recommends that tree guards are:
- Made of metal (aluminum, wrought iron or steel)
- Set back at least 12 inches from the curb.
What are examples of a tree guard that won't get permitted?
Too Restrictive: Tree grates are not allowed in NYC because they can girdle (chock) the tree over time.
Too Pointy: Sit spikes or loafers (as sometimes they are known) make sense if you don’t want people to sit on your guard, but they can’t have dangerous, sharp and/or protruding edges.
Too Solid: Solid walled tree guards allow soil to be elevated which can rot the trunk, compact the soil and prevents water from running into the tree bed.
Too Close: If tree guards are too close the street, they can more easily get damaged and become dangerous to pedestrians.
Too Short: Guards in NYC need to be at least 18 inches tall. This follows the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements to prevent people with disabilities from tripping (or all people, for that matter).
Too Tall: Way back in the horse and buggy days, “Horse Guards” (as they were known then) were fashionable because they prevented horses from damaging tree trunks. Since most people no longer travel by horse, we certainly don’t need tree guards over 24 inches. Trees in urban environments do not always grow straight. Street trees grow towards the sun and can be impacted by wind tunnels created by very tall buildings and therefore generally begin to lean overtime towards the street. Horse Guards begin to girdle (choke) the tree as it is begins to lean.
Where can I get a free tree guard?
Free tree guards are hard to come by. On occasion, Borough Presidents, City and State Council Members promote tree guard funding programs, so sign up for their newsletters and/or pop into their office and ask about if they have or will have such a program.
Tree Guard Funding
Capacity Fund Grant with Partnership for Parks
- You can find guidelines, eligibility and applications on Partnership for Parks website.
- If you would like to apply, you can reach out to Mike Mullaley directly.
Million Tree NYC, mini grants or street care work
- (212) 360-8733
NYC Service Dept., Grants to beautify your neighborhood (Love Your Block as above)
- (212) 788-7550
New York State DEC, Urban Forestry and tree planting grants
- (518) 402-9240