I don't own the land I want to garden on.
September 26, 2008 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Where can I plant a tree if I don't own land?

I have a sudden burning desire to plant a tree. Problem: we own a townhouse but don't own the land it sits on (all the residents pay a monthly property management fee for the landscaping in the complex to be taken care of). I'm hoping for a small patch of ground that would let me just plant a sapling there and tend it occasionally.

Are there programs or community garden schemes that support this? From what I understand, they encourage planting vegetable gardens, flowers and the like, but I don't think they'd welcome a whole tree. I'm also not keen on asking the property management company/homeowners' association for permission or to put the issue to a vote. I've had my differences with them in the past and I'm also pretty sure it would take a long time to get a decision back from them.

Most of my friends are also renters and don't have the resources to help me out.

So that leaves me with...not a lot of options. I'm open to any new suggestions that I might've overlooked.

I live in the Princeton, NJ area and I'm willing to travel quite a bit to find something (i.e. - drive at least an hour or so away).
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about volunteering with New Jersey Tree Foundation?
posted by metahawk at 8:33 PM on September 26, 2008

My parents plant free trees from the Arbor Day Foundation on public medians and along the edges of undeveloped lots. Though some of them inevitably get mowed/chopped down, in many cases this wee bit of civil disobedience has resulted in trees that now, some 15+ years after the first ones were planted, are now full-size and healthy, providing shade, beautifying the environment and preventing erosion in areas near their house.

Anyway, just one approach to consider—it's kind of like guerilla tree-planting. It works on the principle that it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission—and most of the time, no one ever asks you anything. If you're looking to avoid wasting your time and/or clashing with management bodies, it may not be entirely the right approach for you—but then again, most of the time you won't get any trouble from anyone about it, especially in the case of planting on medians.
posted by limeonaire at 9:35 PM on September 26, 2008

Another idea: Try a local school. They may be willing to use the exercise of planting a tree as a teaching opportunity. My parents also did that from time to time.
posted by limeonaire at 9:37 PM on September 26, 2008

You could always plant a tree in a large pot as a temporary home. Perhaps by the time it's outgrown it's pot, you (or a friend) will have moved to somewhere you can plant things in the ground.
posted by 26.2 at 10:01 PM on September 26, 2008

Get a large pot and plant a columnar apple tree. You will have a nice tree and tasty fruit.

Your could also order tiny trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation, and then go hiking, planting the seedlings along the way. You can get 10 free trees with a $10 membership.
posted by Ostara at 10:32 PM on September 26, 2008

If you become a guerilla tree planter, please make sure your ninja trees are native to your area! Some (like buckthorn) are horrible, horrible invasive species that choke out everything else. A local flora/fauna guide could help - or browse here. Make sure your tree is a good citizen!
posted by Sfving at 11:07 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

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