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Trees & Sidewalks Program

Parks’ sidewalk repair program can help repair severe sidewalk damage caused by root growth adjacent to one-, two, and three-family (NYC Tax Class 1), homes not used for commercial purposes and occupied by the owner only. Funding for this program is limited, and repairs are made based on a ranking system that includes the severity of damage, amount of pedestrian traffic, and size and condition of the tree.

Repair a Sidewalk Yourself

As an alternative to the Trees & Sidewalks Program, you may repair the sidewalk on your own by engaging an independent contractor, and completing a Tree Work Permit application on the NYC Parks website. A Parks forester can offer site-specific repair solutions for working around the City tree. After the repair you may file a claim with the Comptroller’s office within 90 days of repair for the damage you believe was caused by a City Tree.

How to Apply for the Trees & Sidewalks Program

Submit a Service Request for a Trees & Sidewalks Inspection

Visit the NYC Street Tree Map, our tree service request system, or call 311 to request an inspection of your site by the Trees & Sidewalks program.

Before you make a forestry service request, please make sure that you have not previously submitted the same request. The Trees & Sidewalks program only inspects a damaged sidewalk site once every three years.

Check the Status of Your Service Request

Once we receive a Trees & Sidewalk request, a Parks Forester will verify eligibility and then inspect the site. You can view the forester’s inspection results by checking the status of your Service Request by visiting 311 Online or by calling 311.

You can also check the status of your site by visiting the Tree Work Hub.

Submit a Request

Understanding your Inspection Rating

Inspectors evaluate the damage to the sidewalk at each site to provide a rating from 1 to 100 based on the following criteria:

Damage and Vertical Lift

The difference in height between two pieces of concrete lifted or cracked by tree roots. Vertical lift elevates the level of sidewalk joints. Sidewalks that are cracked but not raised will rate lower than those that are lifted and present a greater tripping hazard. For example, lifts less than 1/2 inch will rate lower than lifts of more than two inches.

Clearance

How much of the sidewalk is impacted by the damage. Narrow sidewalks that are more difficult to navigate around the sidewalk damage will be scored higher than wide ones.

Tree condition

The size and health of the tree or trees. Healthier and larger trees result in higher ratings.

Location

An assessment of the relative amount of pedestrian traffic. Sites with higher pedestrian traffic result in higher ratings.

Number of Damaged Flags

The number of sidewalk flags damaged by tree roots. More damaged flags result in higher ratings.

Total Trees

The number of trees impacting the sidewalk. Sites with more trees will result in higher ratings

Repair Timeframe

Repairs are made according to the sidewalk rating. We repair the sidewalks with the highest ratings first.

Before and after pictures of sidewalk repairs

Trees & Sidewalks Rating Chart

Sidewalk Rating <80 80-90 90-100
Likelihood of Repair under the Trees & Sidewalk Program Site does not rate highly enough to be repaired by NYC Parks at this time.

Site has been waitlisted: This site meets the criteria for repair. However due to a high number of requests we are only able to repair the very highest rated sites at this time.

We will continue to evaluate based on capacity and funding if your site can be added to our next contract.

Site expected to be repaired within three years.
Recommended Action

Engage an Independent contractor.

Complete a Tree Work Permit Application.

File claim for damages with NYC Comptroller.

OR

Request new Trees & Sidewalks inspection three years after initial inspection. This could result in a higher rating.

Check Tree Work Hub (nyc.gov/parks/treework) for status.

OR

Engage an independent contractor.

Complete a Tree Work Permit Application.

File claim for damages with NYC Comptroller.

OR

Request new Trees & Sidewalks inspection three years after initial inspection. This could result in a higher rating.

Check Tree Work Hub (nyc.gov/parks/treework) for approx. date of repair.

OR

Engage an independent contractor.

Complete a Tree Work Permit Application.

File claim for damages with NYC Comptroller.

Repair Methods

We employ a variety of design strategies and construction techniques to repair sidewalks around trees. Each solution seeks to optimize the pedestrian experience while minimizing damage to tree roots. Repair strategies include:

Tree Bed Expansion

This technique involves the removal of damaged sidewalk from the area around the tree and expansion of the tree bed. Expanding the soil surface around the tree is the most common method of repair work and is necessary to prevent further damage to the surrounding sidewalk. This practice also increases the permeable surface to help reduce stormwater runoff.

Although expansion will create a larger tree bed, sidewalk clearance will always meet accessibility standards.

Ramping

The grade of the sidewalk is gradually raised to bridge large roots while assuring a smooth, even sidewalk surface.

Strengthening

The sidewalk is reinforced with rebar or wire mesh to reduce uneven joint lift due to tree roots as well as the likelihood of random cracking in the future.

Base Material

A layer of coarse gravel is installed under the new sidewalk to support the sidewalk while allowing space for root growth.

All excavation and concrete removal within the area of the tree are performed with extreme care. We employ best practices to minimize impact to trees, including hand and/or pneumatic excavation and careful protection of exposed roots protection.

Notices of Violation

The Department of Transportation is no longer issuing Notice of Violations (NOV) or liens to the owners of properties that are owner occupied 1, 2, or 3 family homes not being used for commercial purposes where sidewalk damage is caused only by City trees. As a result, you will be able to refinance or sell your home without the additional cost associated with sidewalk repair or the burden of addressing a lien on your property.

If you have already received a Notice of Violation (NOV) from the Department of Transportation (DOT), you should contact DOT at nyc.gov/dot. DOT will be reviewing all active violations. If you are refinancing or selling your home and need to remove a lien due to City tree damage, you may submit a request to DOT online at www.nyc.gov/311 or by mail.

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