Spring (Cleaning Season) has Sprung!
March 20, 2013

Spring (Cleaning Season) has Sprung!

With spring officially underway today, we are looking forward to the familiar rites of passage into the warmer seasons. It’s time to pull out the storage bins holding the light-weight clothes to see what—if anything—still fits.  It’s also high time to replace the Valentine’s decorations with the construction paper flowers, birds, budding trees, and other spring-themed objet d’art that the children have produced over the years. In addition, there’s also plenty of dusting, cleaning behind furniture, and under rugs to max out a productive day.

While our indoor spring-cleaning tasks abound like anyone else’s, we don’t have the to-do list that would come with a yard of our own. Not needing to do yard work leaves us apartment dwellers free to roam the city’s parks, streets, and playgrounds, but we also appreciate that raking, planting, spreading mulch, and generally cleaning up the outdoors are profoundly satisfying and important jobs.  Fortunately, New York City has plenty of opportunities to get your hands dirty in support of the green spaces we love. 

Tend to Trees

The city’s ambitious Million Trees NYC initiative as planted more than 662,000 trees and counting around the five boroughs.  The strategic plan calls for the development of 2,000 acres of “multi-story forest plant communities” that are composed of large canopy trees such as oak, sweetgum and tulip; smaller understory trees including dogwood and sassafras; shrubs; and herbaceous plants.

The 2013 planting season begins soon, with the goal of embedding some 20,000 trees per day throughout the city.  Registration for citywide planting efforts begins Monday, April 1, and the events will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28.  There are also other tree-planting opportunities available through Million Trees, Natural Areas Volunteers, and other programs.

Families can also choose to call one tree their very own through the city’s Adopt-a-Tree program, which has so far connected over 5,800 trees with care-taking volunteers.  Find a nearby tree in need by typing your zip code into the program website, then sign up for more information and expert guidance. 

Perk Up Your Favorite Park

The City Parks Foundation—which is independent from, but closely related to, the city Parks Department—connects volunteers with clean-up and planting efforts in local parks throughout the city.  It also organizes concerts and other arts events that need volunteers to run.  On the website you can find events by borough, neighborhood, or cultural preference, such as African music, ballet, comedy or Klezmer.  Choosing an event by topic rather than location can be a great way to get out of your own neighborhood and explore a new one. 

Green Teens

Our children are ages 7 and 10, so they’re not yet old enough to go it alone on a parks project, but when the time is right, the Green Teens program awaits.  Its goal is to help teens become stewards of local parks and recreation centers, and to understand the environmental impact of living green through recycling and maintaining a healthy outdoor environment. If your teen is interested, contact Green.Teens@parks.nyc.gov.

What outdoor volunteer experiences do you like the most?

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