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New York City Street Tree Map
Explore and Care For NYC’s Urban Forest

Tree Bed Modifications

Tree beds springled with snow are covered with recently spread mulch
New York City law requires property owners to keep their sidewalks in safe condition. Below are some general tree bed-related issues and advice on how to correct them.

Tree Beds With Low Soil

  • The soil level within the tree bed can settle or become compacted and leave the sidewalk edge exposed.
  • It is best to gently till the soil with a hand trowel, loosening the top 2-3 inches of soil to alleviate compaction and help water and air reach the roots.
  • Then add wood chips or mulch to level the grade of the tree bed with that of the sidewalk.
  • Do not pile excessive mulch into the bed or against the trunk as this can ultimately compromising the long term health of the tree.

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After

Tree Beds With Uplifted Cobble/Pavers

  • Obstructions that may be interfering with the healthy growth of a tree, such as paving stones, can be removed to provide a better tree bed for future root growth.
  • Once the constricting stones or concrete are taken out, the tree bed should be filled with mulch or woodchips and left to grade with the sidewalk.

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After

Tree Beds That Are Too Small for the Tree

If you would like to expand the size of the tree’s bed, we recommend that you file a Tree Work Permit with your Borough Forestry office and perform the work with the help of a contractor.

Before

After

Installing or Removing Paving Stones or Bricks

We recommend removing stone pavers from tree beds to give tree roots room to expand.

Installing Temporary Lighting/Decorations

A Tree Work Permit must be submitted and approved before holiday lights or decorations are affixed to a street tree.