Gardening for the Gardenless

CP Garden Helper_web
One of the volunteers that helped weed and plant Cooper Park

Spring planting may be done, but there are still a lot of growth opportunities waiting to sprout.  If you are land deprived, not unusual for city dwellers, there are ways to exercise your green thumb.

Tree beds

Did you know that street trees are usually water deprived? The street trees are NYC Parks property, but due to budgetary constraints they count on volunteers to do the bulk of the watering. Occasionally, you’ll see water trucks watering these beds, but the trees need more regular watering.

The following is from a pamphlet from Greenpoint Tree Corps called Tree Bed Care 101:
First step in tree bed care is soil care. This step includes: flushing the bed out with water to remove salt and pollutants, cultivating the soil (careful not to damage tree’s roots), adding compost (1/2 inch per year) and then mulch (at least 6 inches away from trunk to prevent bark rot).  Adding  soil is a NO-NO!  This can add to drainage issues and otherwise harm the tree.  If you wish to plant plants in the bed, do so thoughtfully. The tree’s health comes first, so find compatible plants that are native and have shallow roots. You can find a list at the NYC Parks Dept. Website: . Watering is the third and most important step. Water slowly (a gallon per minute) with a goal of 15 to 20 gallons per week most of the time and twice that during hot dry months.  The final step is maintenance. Check to see if it needs watering or weeding, install a “curb your dog” sign or tree guards, request pruning from Greenpoint Tree Corps.

Community gardening at public parks or gardens:
Some neighborhood parks like Cooper Park, Bushwick Inlet Park, and Transmitter Park need help curtailing the weeds.  Weeding must be done in supervised groups. Bushwick Inlet Park has Weeding Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  For weeding outings at Transmitter Park, contact:  If you’d like to volunteer at Cooper Park check out their facebook page:

There are many community gardens looking for volunteers. Find one nearby and ask about joining. For instance the Northside Community Garden is run by the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust. They are currently looking for volunteers. If you are interested contact:

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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