NYC Parks logo - a leaf inside a circle with the words NYC Parks below
New York City Tree Map
Explore and Care For NYC’s Urban Forest

Trash and Animal Waste

Waste, trash, and weeds next to a street tree
Street trees in urban settings are very resilient but being on the public right-of-way can leave them open to deposits of debris, litter, and waste that can be harmful to their survival. In addition to weeds that naturally spring up in tree pits, human and animal-derived waste can alter soil quality, damage exposed tree roots, and give the tree pit an unsightly appearance. Younger street trees are especially susceptible to this type of damage. There are several ways in which you can help prevent litter and waste from building up in tree pits.


  • Keep dogs and dog waste (both liquid and solid) away from the tree. The waste will overwhelm a tree, burning its trunk and throwing soil nutrients out of balance. Encourage dog owners to clean up any droppings within the tree bed (The City requires property owners to clean up animal waste on their property and adjoining sidewalks and gutters even if they do not own the pet, stray, or wild animal making the waste).
  • Keep garbage and de-icing salt out of the tree pit. Try alternatives to rock salt (sodium chloride) such as calcium chloride, granular urea, sand, or sawdust. In the spring, flush the tree pit with water to dilute winter salt buildup.
  • Pick up any discarded cigarette butts within tree pits. The inorganic material in cigarette filters will not decompose and the chemicals in the cigarette can damage the tree.
  • Politely inform other members of the community about the damages caused by allowing trash or animal waste in tree pits. Some residents may not know that their actions have a negative impact on the tree’s survival. Dogs are staples of many NYC communities and they are even more appreciated when handled by responsible owners!
  • Consider installing a tree guard or signage for your tree to discourage people and animals from using it as a garbage receptacle.