March Madness! (NYC Tree Pit Fence Planting Style)


Regardless of what our thermometer might say, the calendar indicates that it’s officially springtime in New York City. Congratulations! We’ve survived the winter.

Spring is the ideal time to become a gardener. This is particularly true for urban settings where each tree (or bioswale) can become a miniature garden within its tree pit guard—perfect for practice. Here are a few gardening tips for getting started with planting in NYC:

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Do a Little Spring Cleaning:Tulips in a NYC Tree Pit Fence

  • Remove any debris from your urban garden or tree pit guard and turn the soil in late March.
  • Flush the tree bed with water to remove salt residue left over from winter road and sidewalk treatments.
  • Ask your local NYC garden nursery to make suggestions on how to improve the quality of your soil. In New York City, Urban Garden Center (on Park Avenue and 116th Street) always has good suggestions.

Plant a Sidewalk Garden in Your NYC Tree Pit Fence:

  • Add a little more color to your NYC tree box fence by planting a combination of annuals (plants that survive a single growing season) and perennials (plants that return for several growing seasons).
  • Annuals tend to be better choices because their root systems will not compete with trees for water. While bulbs for annuals must be planted in the fall you can still purchase pre-grown bulbs for tulips and daffodils in pits. Just be sure to select ones with buds that are still tight.
  • Other developed flowers, such as pansies and violas, are usually available this time of year in flats (around 32 plants each)
  • Plant perennials such as Hosta only when you trees are well established.

Add Garden Planter Boxes:

Start your flower boxes around May 1st. Plants in flower boxes are more susceptible to cold and frost. A few flowers to consider for your planter boxes include:Forget me nots in a NYC Tree Pit Fence

  • Dwarf Iris
  • Edging lobelia
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Glory of the snow
  • Japanese pachysandra
  • Periwinkle
  • Spring beauties
  • Snowdrops
  • Wax begonia
  • Wishbone flower

Note: Double check with your garden nursery to see which of these varieties will do well in your particular garden planter box. Be sure to describe the climate, sunlight, and water access specific to where each box will be place.

Nowhere to Garden? A Few Ideas:

Join a community garden. Many city parks departments and other organization have public space available for gardeners. For instance, San Francisco Garden Resource Organization (aka SFGRO) provides a complete map of community gardens and other related opportunities. Check out what’s happening in your city.

Volunteer for a gardening committee or other garden-relate nonprofit in your community. In 2001, New York City residents began The Daffodil Project, in which volunteers planted thousands of yellow daffodils around the city in remembrance for victim of the 9/11 Attacks. Other cities also have volunteer opportunities for gardeners, such as Boston Natural Area Networks, which works to preserve, expand and improve urban open space.

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