Why Do We Need NYC Tree Guard Permits in NYC?

For those of us who love to garden outside, going inside to file a tree guard permit with our local government to install tree guards – fencing that actually make our streets beautiful—seems a bit silly. Trust us. This is paperwork well worth the effort in gaining your tree guard permit for NYC. In general the purpose of NYC tree guard permits process is so Parks know who is working around trees throughout the City. In addition, they help prolong the life of the tree, ensure pedestrians don’t get hurt and help protect you from lawsuits. Here in New York, we’ve witnessed repeatedly how tree guard permits improve the lives of you, your neighbors and your urban trees.

Avoid Lawsuits

Nothing ruins that warm neighborly feeling like an ugly lawsuit. Yet, that’s exactly what may happen if a pedestrian trips over your tree box fencing. A tree fence permit for NYC will reduce a tree guard owner’s liability in these types of situations. Better yet, obtaining a NYC tree fence permit to install your tree bed guard can prevent this unfortunate situation from occurring all together. Here are a few New York City Parks & Recreation Department requirements for installing tree bed guards that ensure pedestrian safety.

To keep folks from nose-diving into the geraniums, guards must be over 18 inches in New York City, and preferably made out of metal. Low borders made of wood, concrete, or blocks (pictured above) are difficult to spot for visually impaired pedestrians. They are also obstructed by even the lowest of snow banks, creating a tripping hazard for the most cautious walkers….

To keep folks from nose-diving into the geraniums, tree guards must be over 18 inches in New York City, and preferably made out of metal. Low borders made of wood, concrete, or blocks (pictured above) are difficult to spot for visually impaired pedestrians. They are also obstructed by even the lowest of snow banks, creating a tripping hazard for the most cautious walkers….

Or a similar problem arises with this flat guard whose subterranean pit creates a hole that could easily catch someone’s foot.

 … or a similar problem arises with this flat guard whose subterranean pit creates a hole that could easily catch someone’s foot.

Maple trees grow bulky roots that cause grated fencing to buckle, forming perilous bumps on the sidewalk.  As a result, some cities do not allow planting certain species of trees, including Norway Maples. New York City has banned grates altogether since they are neither safe for pedestrians nor trees (see above).

Maple trees grow bulky roots that cause grated fencing to buckle, forming perilous bumps on the sidewalk. As a result, some cities do not allow planting certain species of trees, including Norway Maples. New York City has banned grates altogether since they are neither safe for pedestrians nor trees (see above).

Would you want your preschooler practicing her balancing skills on one of these razor edges? We didn’t think so. New York City no longer issues tree guard permits to guard designs with excessively sharp edges or sit spikes.

Would you want your preschooler practicing her balancing skills on one of these razor edges? We didn’t think so. New York City no longer issues tree guard permits to tree fence designs with excessively sharp edges or sit spikes.

Avoid Dead Trees

Not all tree bed guards are good for trees. Some styles of tree fencing deny street trees of water, drainage, soil or room to grow. A tree guard permit helps rule out designs most detrimental to the health of trees, so that yours thrive for years to come.

Tree trunks grow wider as they age (Sound familiar?).  That’s another reason New York City no longer allows grates.  As you can see above, grate fencing will girdle (or choke) a tree over time.

Tree trunks grow wider as they age (Sound familiar?). That’s another reason New York City no longer allows grates. As you can see above, grate fencing will girdle (or choke) a tree over time.

New York City no longer allows solid-walled guards, which can rot trunks, compact soil and limit trees’ water supply. That’s especially problematic for young trees that need lots and lots of water to grow. Notice how spindly the tree above looks?

New York City no longer allows solid-walled guards, which can rot trunks, compact soil and limit trees’ water supply. That’s especially problematic for young trees that need lots and lots of water to grow. Notice how spindly the tree above looks?

Sunken tree pits collect wet leaves, damp soil and garbage that may damage the trunk and lead to health problems. Also notice how small this tree pit is.  Just imagine how cramped this tree will be in a few years.

Sunken tree beds collect wet leaves, damp soil and garbage that may damage the trunk and lead to health problems. Also notice how small this tree bed is. Just imagine how cramped this tree will be in a few years.

Up until the 20th century, these tall fences served as a fashionable means of preventing horses from damaging trunks.  We no longer have such problems. The old ‘Horse Guard’ tends to strangle slanting trees. And urban trees usually lean to seek sunlight through tall buildings or bend to the currents of wind tunnels.

Up until the 20th century, these tall tree fences served as a fashionable means of preventing horses from damaging tree trunks. We no longer have such problems. The old ‘Horse Guard’ tends to strangle slanting trees. And urban trees usually lean to seek sunlight through tall buildings or bend to the currents of wind tunnels.

Tree trunks also do not grow in perfect circles, like this circular ‘horse guard’ assumes. To avoid this issue, New York City limits guards to 24 inches in height, and requires as much space as possible between a guard and tree trunk.

Tree trunks also do not grow in perfect circles, like this circular ‘horse guard’ assumes. To avoid this issue, New York City limits tree guards to 24 inches in height, and requires as much space as possible between a guard and tree trunk.

Luckily, submitting a tree guard permit in New York City is very simple. Just fill out the online application (click here). We suggest you submit as soon as possible, since the application can take up to 5 weeks to process. In NYC, there is no fee for the permit.

And, now that you’re done, get back outside and garden!