Parks’ Planting Process
Parks' Central Forestry Division works with experienced tree growers to make sure that only the healthiest and strongest specimen and species are selected for planting—beautifying our sidewalks, shading our streets, and providing New Yorkers with a host of benefits for many years to come.
The process has three major advantages for New York City:
- A high-quality standard for tree planting that is leading the industry.
- A wider array of tree species that have not previously been available. With this expanded selection that better meets the broad diversity of planting locations throughout the city, Parks is now able to more accurately match "the right tree for the right location."
- Parks now has a direct conduit to a wealth of knowledge via the staff at each nursery. Our partner nurseries have extremely dedicated and talented people working for them who collectively have hundreds of years of experience, which means that if we have a question we cannot answer within our office, the nurseries are just a phone call away!
For a more in-depth look at Parks' street tree procurement process, check out the article Tree Procurement Contracts: New York City’s Quest for Amazing Trees written by Parks Senior Forester Matthew Stephens for the May/June 2010 issue of City Trees: The Journal of the Society of Municipal Arborists.
Putting Trees in the Ground
The following 8 Steps describe the process of how Parks is turning gray sidewalks into green streetscapes.
Step 1: Survey
A survey of potential planting sites takes place a few months before the target planting season. Our foresters use a variety of criteria to decide which locations are most appropriate for planting and can accommodate the healthy growth of new trees. If the location in front of your address is selected, an appropriate tree species is determined and a white dot is painted on the curb.
Step 2: Utilities
Prior to any work beginning, the utility companies mark the locations of all underground gas (yellow) , electric (red), and telecommunication (orange) lines to ensure that our contractors provide proper clearance while excavating the planting sites.
Step 3: Marking
A Parks forester along with the tree planting contractor will revisit each selected site prior to planting. A white "T" is painted on the curb where the tree will be planted. You may also see white marks on the concrete to indicate the corners of the future street tree pit. This process will most likely take place between February and March for spring plantings, and between September and October for fall plantings.
Step 4: Saw-Cutting
In some cases, the contractor will send a small crew to the location ahead of time to cut the concrete along the edges of the proposed excavation. The purpose of this is to make the concrete easier to remove at the time of planting.
Step 5: Pre-Excavation
In some cases the contractor may send a larger crew to the site prior to planting with the task of removing concrete, digging the hole in the ground, and filling it with nutrient-rich topsoil. Preparing the site ahead of time allows the contractor to plant more trees during the short planting seasons. Don’t worry if the tree does not get planted at this time. THEY WILL BE BACK, most likely within a few weeks depending on the weather.
Step 6: Tree Planting
Planting occurs between March and May for the spring season and between October and December for the fall season. After planting, the contractor will install two wooden stakes for support. The ground will be mulched to moderate soil temperatures, minimize weed growth, and to retain water.
Step 7: Watering/ Maintenance
Contractors are responsible for regular maintenance of the tree during its first two years in the ground. As part of their maintenance requirements, they are required to water the tree at least once every two weeks from May through October. After one year, they must remove the stakes and ties. The planting contractors are also required to maintain soil quality and quantity, perform minor pruning, and replace missing paving stones if necessary. Nonetheless, New Yorkers are strongly urged to water street trees weekly during the warmer seasons, 20 gallons or more, for the first 3-5 years after planting.
Step 8: Guarantee
All street trees are guaranteed by the planting contractor for two years after planting. Parks will re-inspect every tree at least once during this period. If a tree dies during the guarantee period, the contractor must replace the tree in the next planting season. In fact, with the exception of vandalized trees that must only be replaced one time, a contractor must replace trees as many times as is necessary to leave a living tree at the end of the guarantee period.