Instructables
This is a step-by-step guide to getting a tree planted in your sidewalk in San Francisco. And no, you don't have to own your home to plant a tree. Renters are perfectly eligible too. In fact, the more people planting street trees, the better.

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.
 
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Step 1: Call or e-mail Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF).

To kick off the planting, you can call the FUF office at 415-561-6890, extension 101 to talk to a human or fill out the "Sign up to Plant" form on their Web site to temporarily avoid human contact.

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
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poldim2 years ago
Although some are concerned about the fees associated with planting or government involvement in the big bad city of SF, it should really be a non issue. Surprisingly so, its clear if you read the first sentence of substance on the SFDWP Tree Planting page (Google):   There is no fee required for a Tree Planting Permit, however, the permit is necessary to ensure that street trees do not impact infrastructure and are appropriately planted so that they thrive and become a neighborhood asset.


As I have experienced, the biggest problems arise from individual neighbors that may not let you do whatever you try to do.  The city is fairly lenient, but by allowing everyone's opinion to be as strong, you end up needing 100% agreement from anyone that knows what you plan on doing in order to not have problems.  A neighboring renter complained about the tree position and ultimately prevent someone from planting a tree on their own property. 


chotii5 years ago
I can't imagine NOT having trees in the city. For pity's sake, they absorb CO2, they clean the air, they provide shade and oxygen...enough of them can sometimes even provide a cooling effect in the overheated urban concrete microenvironment. The shade alone would be worth all the damaged sidewalks in the world, to me.

On my .15 acre property here in Washington state, I have 18 trees: cedar (3), fir (6), pine (1), maple (1) flowering dogwood (3), Himalayan birch (1), hazelnut (1), and Asian Pear (2). I'm intending to plant some dwarf cherry trees, too. I can't imagine removing them all, or *any* of them, unless they become destructive.
...I'm just gonna say...Pity's sake? ..I might be wrong or it might just be the way people talk here...but I thought it was Pete's sake...

:D
Lol, I have to periodically remove the volunteers that pop up in my yard. right now I have about 2 dozen 1-1/.2 foot tall oaks (four varieties), dozens and dozens of Maples (mainly Norwegian), butternut, Pignut hickory, wild cherry, Hawthorn, and wild apricot to remove before this fall is over...(I got lazy the last two years). Seriously, all in all, about 50 saplings, some 1 to 1-/2 foot, some as tall as 7 feet. And the yard is only 60x90. Grnated, I also have a 100foot tall white oak on one side of the house and a 100 foot tall Pignut hickory on the other side, along with a 70 year old Mulberry and three of it's 35 year old kids, a mature chiense Apricot planted back in the 70s, and the reminents of an old apple tree...
What happens in 10-20 years when the tree's roots start to destroy the sidewalk and road around it? Does anyone think past the pizza party? Who pays to fix the damage?
It's incredible the leak of conscience of the people who still think it's the environment that has to adapt to us and not us the ones who should be learning to live in balance with Earth. Complete nonsense even after the pizza party. I hope you enjoy your concrete town.
Don't forget the tree would be depressed because the body of former trees keep it upright (Wooden stakes)
Theres trees roots that grow almost strait down so plant one of those, or chop it down after that time
Viable option but I bet neither will happen. And who chops it down and removes the stump? And again, who pays for it? I am guessing it's the California tax payer. Plant a tree on your own property or grown one in a pot or MOVE OUT OF THE CITY. Leave the modding of public property to the professionals. Leave the side walk for what it's meant for, WALKING. It's not an extension of your front lawn.
Professionals? If those professionals got it right in the first place, then we would never have ended up living in hideous concrete jungles to begin with :P There is nothing worse than a city where you can't see a single trace of green, you might as well live in a prison. The only solution to that is to level the place and start again...
I second that!
I am going to hate-plant 50 trees in your name, sensoryhouse.
just kidding.

actually I am into guerilla wildflower seed spreading here in dallas.


Bah humbug - these ARE the professionals! FUF employs trained, certified, professional arborists; they select trees appropriate for the location and microclimate, and get official approval from the city on where exactly to plant them. What the heck more do you want? In exchange, planting trees brings the community together, reduces the crime rate, and improves the air quality. That far outweights the occasional crack in the sidewalk (which shouldn't happen with the right tree selection and planting anyway...)
Here in Seattle, my mother was injured (pretty severely) from the unevenness causes by cracks in the sidewalk from trees when she tripped over one. Simply taking a evening or nighttime walk can become dangerous. If the property is not yours than I can assume you will not be their for very long and someone else down the line will have to deal with any problems. If you tell me that the trees planted will not be a problem then I will take your word for it. I just hope that there is just as much thought as emotion that goes into this project. I am not trying to be an ass. I simply have seen the downsides which many of you have not and are so quick to shrug off.
Sidewalks must be maintained. Sidewalks outside a home are the responsibility of the home owner in my town. In fact, My city is pretty stringent about maintenance of sidewalks.. And there are a lot of solutions to the problems that an older tree can present, including cutting the offending root and re slabbing or trimming the slab and resetting to narrow the sidewalk at the intersection of the tree for a real specimen. It's insane to think of cutting down a 100 year old Oak just so that a sidewalk remains 4 feet wide. Nearly as insane as not having treelawns. I do feel bad for your mom, but really, blame the person responsible, not the tree.
Actually I don't think they're shrugging off your comments as much as they believe the upsides outweigh the downsides, and what downsides there are have been addressed by making it an organized and educated effort ... you don't do it all by yourself ... these guys know what types of trees to plant and how to plant them to avoid those problems. That's what the $160 fee is for.
You know, there have been problems with that East Coast and west. When I lives in S.F. I was constantly stumbling from sidewalks cracked by roots, fortunatley no injuries. But in Boston, where I hail from, it's simply from age and time but some woman actually sued the city because she spent years with pain and surgeries on her foot.
I know what you mean; for instance my aunt broke her leg while running away from a dog, somewhat like how your mother was injured. But that dog was a chiwowa and really posed no threat if she would have assesed the situation. While I agree TOTALY with looking it over further, many would probably be totaly fine and just have a new tree to show from it.
I'd hate to break it to you guys, but.. in all reality which is more neccessary? Trees or sidewalk. What affected your aunt; and your mother, were not trees, but in contrast the poorly maintained sidewalk. Cracking occurs naturally due to heating and cooling. Over here in podunk usa :P, (meaning middle of nowhere) we have many trees planted around our sidewalks and have for over 200 years. They have yet to propose a serious endangerment to society... .___.
uksam88 ARVash6 years ago
A recent study in england have proved a well maintained pavement with a tree poses more of a risk of one without a tree and not maintained at all. The roots crush pipes be it sewer or gas. Explosions due to gas leaks are not uncommon, and majority of the time caused by roots. When your road is next getting dug up its probably due to damage roots.

Arvash you say cracking is inevitable, it is indeed, but cracks which protrude into the air are usually caused by roots are not inevitable. Thousands of houses and roads each year suffer extreme structural damage due to roots.

"They have yet to propose a serious endangerment to society... ._. "

So a partially blind person who can't see the tree in a poor lit street walks into a tree, falls over and cracks a rib. First of all its extremely painful and second of all extortionately high hospital bills (unless you dont have the excellent NHS).

Great instructable, always good to have trees in urban areas provided they are rooted straight down.
ARVash uksam886 years ago
I live in the"country" so perhaps I'm a little biased. All our sidewalks are cracked and rootcovered. In fact some of them purposefully so. We have a wide population of elderly and partially blind; but they've done a pretty good job of missing the trees. I suppose my point is, trees will be trees ;p. They aren't a problem down here, but perhaps your trees are more malicious over in CA.
Dude, love the sarcasm. It's great really. Keep on bringing laughter.
Acrtually bud, before the treelawns were all plastered over by folks like you with lovely concrete, they were what they were called...TREE lawns.
not nice... you should love trees there your lively hood
sensoryhouse, why do you hate trees so? On my block in the Inner Sunset we have a lovely magnolia tree that infuses those rare warm San Francisco nights with it's sweet perfume. There are also some gorgeous flowering cherry(?) trees that broke bud about a week ago and exploded into beautiful pink bursts. This Instructable is a great example of citizens working with the government to benefit the city and its residents. And it's all on the up-and-up and handled professionally. Anyway, in SF you should have bigger gripes than this. Awesome Instructable!
Trees were in existence before humans. Therefore, a tree has more rights to land than humans. Why not give it that land?

Anyway, trees are beautiful, especially big ones; there is no reason to object to a tree's roots pushing up a sidewalk, because it can still be walked on.

Finally, if it is a fruit tree, it even provides delicious food to those who take the time to pick it. With all of these things considered, tree planting is great.
Ghost Wolf3 years ago
KILL IT KILL IT whack that tree with hammer.......no wait upon closer inspection she is putting wooden stakes (former trees) to support the tree. I wish they made recycled supports
afridave4 years ago
165 bucks for a tree thats insane, but hey i love trees the more the merrier not to mention the birds and insects an stuff that comes with them ,plant as many trees in as many places as possible is what i say.
psyoper224 years ago
it always seems ironic when sapplings are being held up or protected by wooden slats...anyone else?

great job nonetheless...
dphc4 years ago
It's nice you care for the environment and everything, but $165 seems like a lot of money to spend on something that's not really yours to keep.  Sorry if I'm not quite with it, but I can't help thinking how many bills I could pay with $165, or how that could buy a person's meals for ~3 weeks.  But yeah, I suppose if I had more money than I knew what to do with, then I might spend it on expensive trees too ;)  In any case, I guess it's sort of interesting to see that one has to pay that much out of their own pocket for a tree in SF. 
Warlrosity4 years ago

T-t-thats...Westlake?

CameronSS6 years ago
Cool! I'm glad there really are sane people put there with clout. It's truly hard for me to imagine a street without trees. Topeka is a fairly tree-filled town, and on our street, there are many trees that are at least 30-40 years old. In the summer, the overhanging branches turn the street into an awesome oxygen-producing green tunnel.
gourd CameronSS4 years ago
dallas has a ~150 yr old pecan tree that is protected by the city. there are a lot of old trees like that but once they get so big, the storms around here rip them down.
We have trees in ours that are about 80 years old :-)
komecake4 years ago
  I think it's a great idea. All of these people are arguing about how the trees will cause problems, but without trees we wouldn't even be here. They are vital to our survival. Yes, they might cause problems, but NOTHING lasts 1000 years without having to do some maintenance. 

 People spend thousands of dollars of computers and television, house and cars. All of these things require maintenance and they only last so long before they need "updates" or stop having problems. People just want the luxury of having things like cars and computers and being able to walk in and buy it. If you plant a tree and the roots hit a pipe, WHY is it a big deal to pay your tax dollars to fix it??? You'd rather have the computer that cost $200 more, or the tree that is providing a nicer, cleaner environment for you to live in?

 People need to think for a minute... really.
seandogue5 years ago
You need $165 to plant a tree in San Fransicso? I'm still trying to remove the look of disbelief from my face...It just won't go away. My mom told me this might happen some day... oh gawd, now my head is swaying back and forth too...will it never stop?
K0JSY5 years ago
It's ironic that you are nailing boards into trees on Eath Day...
she's not nailing a board onto the tree; she's nailing the informational plaque to the safety frame around the tree to inform passers-by and solidify the frame so in the event of strong winds or other adverse weather, the tree doesn't uproot.
You're right she isn't putting a nail in a tree ... but if she was then what's the big deal? Trees are plants not animals. Putting a nail in one is no worse than pruning a branch (unless the nail weakens it enough to make it fragile). I'm all about the environment but K0JSY's comment is of the type that make environmentalist seem impractical if not completely clueless.
not to start a debate here, but plants are sentient feeling creatures as well as animals. i would recommend reading "the secret life of plants" for more information on the background research supporting it.
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