Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greening Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue BID

by Joanna Tallantire

Yesterday was Earth Day (the 44th Earth Day, in fact). Since every day is really Earth Day (or should be) the Park Slope Fifth Ave Business Improvement District is launching it’s tree project today! Of the 30 blocks in the BID area, nearly half of them have less than 5 healthy trees per block; that’s both sides of the street! The majority of canopy-less blocks are in the South, below 9th Street.

Trees bring so much to our community. We certainly appreciate our 232 trees when they bloom in the spring and for shade in the summer. More trees will increase the enjoyment for us all when shopping, dining and attending fun BID events like Summer Strollers, Make Music New York and the upcoming Fifth Avenue Fair. But research shows their value goes so much further. Absorbing carbon dioxide from our car emissions; improving air quality; mitigating sound; absorbing storm water thus reducing flooding, even improving safety and thus our overall quality of life.

So to increase the amount of trees in the BID, we are working with the New York Tree Trust. They have investigated a number of blocks in the north, center and south of the BID and will provide a plan of how many trees the Avenue requires, where those trees should be located and an estimate of the cost of tree guards. From there we hope to be able to partner with the Avenue's merchants, property owners and community in putting this plan into place.

This is a long term project, no saplings will appear overnight, but the plan is this:
  • Replace tree stumps and empty tree pits with new trees,
  • Plant new trees,
  • Ask for help from businesses and residents to help care for those trees,
  • Seek support to provide tree guards,
  • Keep the community informed about our tree project.

Million Trees NYC has given us a lot of information on their stewardship scheme, TreeLC. The project encourages caring of trees from all members in the community. Here is a brief summary of the many ways you can be a steward:

Keep the tree pit free of litter, dog waste, stones and bricks. Dog waste, liquid or solid overwhelms the tree, causing trunk burning and throwing the soil nutrient balance. Putting up a sign may help. A TreeLC template is available from the Million Trees NYC library If you can, dig out bricks, to open up the pit. The larger the pit, the more the roots can breathe and the less likely the sidewalk slabs will buckle up. Break up compacted soil, gently, and if able put some mulch around the tree, away from the trunk but spread out to the width of the canopy.

If you have an established street tree, or a new one, you can adopt it. An awesome alternative to a pet, that still needs care and maybe the old chatting to, but you can leave it outside in the cold and rain! Go to the for all the information. Watering will be the main work, but unless exceptionally hot, only once a week!

Foot traffic, dogs, cars, lack of space all help to impact the soil and starve the tree roots of oxygen; tree guards are really worth it. The NY Tree Trust has lots of information about this.

Requesting a Street Tree
Million Trees NYC makes it so easy to request a tree. Go online, fill out the information and they will keep you up to date with the status of your request with an email.

As the old chinese proverb states; “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now”! So help us green the 5th Avenue Business Improvement District in Park Slope. Here are the local hardware stores in the BID that can assist with tools:

Brooklyn Hardware Supply
58 5th Avenue

R&A Houseware
109 5th Ave

Leopaldi Hardware
415 5th Ave

CNS Family Hardware
584 5th Avenue

Park Slope Hardware and Locksmith
593 5th Ave

If you would like anymore information on the 5th Ave BID or the tree project please contact the Director Mark Caserta (

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