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SIDEWALK GARDENS

Add greenery to your block, meet your neighbors and build community.

Sidewalk gardens beautify neighborhoods, create a natural habitat for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, reduce storm water runoff, and increase the lifespan of adjacent trees.

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WHAT ARE SIDEWALK GARDENS?

Our Sidewalk Garden program installs gardens on public sidewalks in front of homes and businesses. We design the garden, take care of permitting, manage concrete removal, and choose plants best suited for the site. Residents maintain the garden after the installation.

WHY ARE GARDENS BENEFICIAL?

  • they create a natural habitat for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators

  • they increase the lifespan of adjacent trees by allowing more water to reach their roots

  • they capture stormwater runoff, which lowers the risk of flooding and reduces discharges of untreated water into the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

WHO CAN GET A SIDEWALK GARDEN

We can plant sidewalk gardens when all of the following criteria are met:

 

  • Sidewalks have concrete that we can remove. 

    • Our funding allows us to remove concrete and plant gardens in its place.

 

  • Sidewalks are at least 10 feet wide. 

    • The curb should be at least 10 feet away from the building to ensure that there is enough unobstructed sidewalk to meet permit and accessibility requirements.

 

  • A block has multiple interested residents. 

    • Our community-based sidewalk garden projects transform an entire block. We plan projects based on interest.

 

  • We have secured grants for the neighborhood.

    • ​We are always looking for grants to fund our Sidewalk Gardens program. The grants subsidize most of the cost. Depending on the grant, we may ask residents to cover permit fees.

HOW TO GET A SIDEWALK GARDEN FROM US

Step 1: FILL OUT OUR INTEREST FORM

Fill out the interest form so we can identify areas of high interest and search for grants to fund your area.

Step 2: BUILD INTEREST ON YOUR BLOCK AND NEIGHBORHOOD

Become a Neighborhood Organizer and get your neighbors to fill out the Interest Form.

Why are Neighborhood Organizers important? 

Neighborhood Organizers are critical to getting sidewalk garden projects off the ground. We typically only start a project if there are 10-20 neighbors over the span of 1-3 city blocks interested in gardens.

 

What do Neighborhood Organizers do? 

Organizers talk to their neighbors about the proposed garden project and distribute fliers (provided by us) to the houses in the neighborhood. The organizer collects names, addresses, and contact info of folks interested in participating and shares the information with us.

High interest in an area will help us get future funding!

PLANT A SIDEWALK GARDEN ON YOUR OWN

Some residents prefer to plant sidewalk gardens on their own than wait for us to secure a grant. Here's a quick guide:

 

Step 1: UNDERSTAND THE REQUIREMENTS 

Before you apply for the permit and design your garden, read through the city's requirements to determine whether the sidewalk meets all the requirements. Here is a FAQ by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

 

Step 2: DESIGN YOUR GARDEN

You can either hire a contractor through the DPW or a private contractor. You will need to submit the design to get the permit. If you're looking for a recommendation for a private contractor, you can check out our Tree and Landscape Services page.

 

Step 3: OBTAIN A PERMIT 

Apply for a garden permit through the city. A permit is required to ensure that the landscaping in sidewalk areas is appropriately constructed and maintained in order to maximize environmental benefits, protect public safety, and limit conflicts with infrastructure.

 

Step 4: CHOOSE APPROPRIATE PLANTS 

The city has a list of recommended plants for all planting conditions, soils, habitats, and water use. You can also refer to the California Native Plant Society's garden planner. Here are two nurseries where you can buy California native plants: Mission Blue Nursery and Candlestick Point Native Plant Nursery.

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