To get a tree planted, you can either deal with the city permitting process and actual planting and maintenance yourself, which tends to be fairly involved. Or, you can use the excellent Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), a San Francisco non-profit that cuts through the red tape for you. This guide is for the wise people who choose the latter.
To plant a tree, you will need:
=> To live in San Francisco
=> A phone or e-mail
=> $165 (fee changes, but this is the current cost)
=> Piece of chalk
=> Food or drink to bring to the potluck
=> A willingness to water your tree weekly
Planting a tree in your neighborhood is an item on Neighbors Project's Neighbors Checklist.
This guide was made with the help of Friends of the Urban Forest.
Step 1: Call or e-mail Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF).
FUF is able to make tree planting easier for the average San Franciscan by working in bulk; they move forward with actual plantings once 25 people in the neighborhood are on board. So once you let them know that you want a tree, they'll either hook you up with the neighborhood leader who is spearheading the tree planting in your neighborhood, or keep your name on file until enough people in your neighborhood are interested. If your neighborhood hasn't reached critical mass yet, you can speed up the process by advertising the opportunity to your neighbors. FUF will give you flyers to make it as easy as possible.
FUF will give you the two forms you need to fill out to get the process rolling:
1. A letter of agreement with FUF
2. The City's Department of Public Works Tree Planting" application
Step 2: Fill out the form and coordinate with other tree-planters-to-be in your neighborhood.
Once you finish your forms, send them to your neighborhood organizer.
At this point, if your neighborhood hasn't reached the 25 want-to-be tree-planters threshold, and you don't want to wait, then you'll also need to talk to your neighbors to get more people signed up. This means hanging up signs, knocking on doors and talking to people about why they might want a tree of their own. FUF, through your neighborhood organizer, will give you talking points and advice. If you have friends on the block, you should ask them to help you with this step because you probably find it daunting, like most other people.
The best approach to this is to think of it as trick-or-treating minus the costumes (in fact, be sure not to wear a costume because that's going to freak people out): You're charming people with your story about how great your block will be once you have some trees (the trick), and they're joining the effort (the treat). Just smile, make eye contact and be nice, and you'll be fine. Oh, and do your congratulatory drinking after you knock, not before.
When 25 people in your neighborhood have finished their forms, then your neighborhood leader will schedule a planting date with FUF. They're always on Saturday.
Step 3: Attend your neighborhood pre-planting meeting to pick your tree and coordinate logistics.
You'll also coordinate the logistics of the day, like where to store the shovels, etc. And of course who will bring what food and drink to the party after the planting.
Be prepared to pay your planting fee at that meeting. The current rate is $165, and that covers the tree, materials and labor and two years of maintenance. FUF has "Tree Buddy" money to help people with limited incomes meet this cost.
Step 4: Prep your sidewalk.
Assuming there's nothing wrong with your planting area, a contractor will come by later that week to cut the sidewalk so that you'll have a place to put the tree. They may also auger the hole, which means sticking a big drill in the concrete. Bring out your camera, set up a lawn chair and enjoy the action.
Step 5: Plant!
FUF will provide all of the tools and materials. But you get to do the actual planting, with help. FUF will also show you how to water and maintain your tree. Watch closely.
Step 6: Party (potluck or pizza party)
Step 7: Maintain your tree
FUF will send you postcards to remind you to water your tree when the time comes. If you're a forgetful person, you should mark your tree's birthday on your calendar as soon as possible and schedule times to water it based on FUF's watering advice. Heck, get your calendar to text or e-mail you on watering day. It's really embarrassing to kill a tree.
The FUF tree doctors will stop by your tree two and eighteen months after you planted it to do a check-up and fix anything that's out of order. You won't have to be there when they stop by, and you may not know if they came by at all. They may leave a door hanger message if they found a problem with your tree.
You can pay FUF some more to have them do tree check-ups for three or five years. And you should call them if your tree gets damaged or you need help with something tree-related.
Otherwise, enjoy your lovely tree. Show it off to your friends. Celebrate its birthdays. And marvel how nice your block looks. You'll be amazed to discover how many neighbors you meet through planting and maintaining your tree. Your block will be both greener, and more of a home.