Tree Bed

Street trees exist within tree beds all over the city and new trees should be installed wherever feasible if conditions allow. Tree beds are currently the only required design, however Connected Tree Beds should be used wherever possible to provide improved tree health; Stormwater Management Practices— those that take water from the roadway — should be considered wherever DEP Priority Areas are affected. 

State Street, Manhattan
Park Avenue, Manhattan


See Benefits of Plantings in the ROW in the Introduction


  • Tree beds are standard treatments that Parks installs and maintains. Other entities are also encouraged to pursue this treatment but require a permit from Parks and DOT
  • DOT and Parks permits are required to install trees. The permit holder must maintain and guarantee the tree and bed for two years
  • Parks contractors will maintain tree beds (individual or connected) planted by Parks for two years after planting, after which each individual property owner is responsible for maintaining the tree bed(s), while Parks retains responsibility for and jurisdiction over the tree itself; see Parks’ webpage on tree-bed care




  • Meet or exceed minimum size and design requirements of Parks Tree Planting Standards contingent upon accommodation of pedestrian capacity and sub-surface constraints
  • A minimum 8-foot clear path must be maintained in areas with high pedestrian traffic and a 5-foot minimum clear path in areas with low pedestrian traffic. DOT may require a greater clear path, up to 15 feet, in locations with particularly high pedestrian volumes. Exceptions may be approved by DOT and Parks on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, a tree bed should not take up more than 50% of the total sidewalk width or reduce the sidewalk width to less than 4 feet
  • Diversify street tree species along a block to avoid species blight and plant the largest-canopy species that site conditions allow, in coordination with Parks
  • Minimum center-to-center distance between trees is 25 feet, depending on tree species and local conditions, and can be as much as 40 feet if the canopy of an existing, neighboring tree is large. Slightly closer spacing may be appropriate if planting in continuous beds or using narrow growing species
  • Do not remove or add topsoil around the rooting area of established trees; mulch is preferred, but should follow DOT and/or Parks specifications
  • Maximize exposed soil to allow more water and air to get to the roots of the tree; if necessary due to high pedestrian traffic or constrained sidewalk widths, use Parks-approved permeable surface treatments over the tree bed; consider a suspended pavement system adjacent to the tree bed to extend available rooting area
  • Tree-bed grates that are flush with the sidewalk and vertical tree guards that enclose the tree trunk are not permitted
  • Do not install any plants within the area of the root ball of a new tree or within 3 feet of the trunk of an established tree
  • When planting beneath the canopies (within the driplines) of established trees, choose plants in containers no larger than 1 gallon each to minimize damage to trees
  • Tree-bed sizes may vary depending on site conditions and should be designed to be as large as possible; Parks typically requires a 5-foot by 10-foot opening with soil only
  • Tree-bed guards are recommended; one of Parks’ standard tree-bed guards should be used; a permit is required
  • A tree-bed guard should be a minimum of 18 inches high, with the lowest horizontal member no more than one inch above the sidewalk, and without any features extending outward beyond the tree bed border
  • In curbside tree beds, only three-sided guards are permitted, with the open side at the curb, 18 inches from the curb face
  • Tree beds without tree-bed guards must have a flat surface without any tripping hazard and be no more than one quarter (1/4) inch above or below the adjacent sidewalk surface


See Plant Finder


Tree bed

Park Avenue, Manhattan