Apple Needed Thousands Of Trees For Its New Campus, Made Slim Pickings For Rooftop City Park

Apple’s new campus required thousands of trees, but as Apple blazed a trail of corporate eco-responsibility, there appears to have been some unintended consequences. Apple’s new spaceship-like campus wasn’t the only urban development in California in need of moderately mature trees. A new urban garden is underway atop Transbay Transit Center, and that project needed trees too.

Apple’s campus required around 3,000 trees, according to CNBC, though Apple reports in a press release that Apple Park will end up homing 9,000 trees.

“Apple park replaces 5 million square feet of asphalt and concrete with grassy fields and over 9,000 native and drought-resistant trees, and is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.”

Transbay Transit Center’s rooftop park only requires 469 trees. Reportedly, the rooftop park’s project architects have “scoured the west coast” trying to find 469 trees that were mature enough to complete the vision the designers had. The Transbay Transit Center’s rooftop urban garden is expected to be completed later in 2017, and Apple’s project is pretty much ready for launch.

According to CNBC, the transit center’s contractor and architect had to brainstorm a strategy that might prevent Apple from buying the trees they wanted before they could get to them. San Francisco’s rooftop park will boast 5.4 acres of green open space enveloped by towers of glass. Below, the transit hub will serve bus lines and possibly even a high-speed rail service. So far, only 60 trees have been delivered, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

“This is going to be one of the great parks of San Francisco, and it’s going to be a public space unlike anything else we have,” Gabriel Metcalf, president of SPUR, told San Francisco Chronicle.

The project needs moderately mature trees, and with Apple’s massive eco-friendly campus competing for trees, it’s been a challenge to find the perfect trees. They have visited 17 nurseries in Oregon and California to find trees for the rooftop garden, the article in San Francisco Chronicle explained.

“There are Chinese elms from Rainbow in northern San Diego County, and olive trees from Farmington in San Joaquin County. From Gilroy come island oaks, while Escondido was the source for five or six cork oaks. A Columnar Hornbeam came from a nursery outside Portland, while a rare torpedo-shaped Chilean wine palm was tracked down near San Diego.”

Meanwhile, Apple was buying trees. Plenty of trees.

The transit center’s planners couldn’t keep up. They developed a system with the yellow tags to communicate which trees would get quickly moved to a nursery in Sunol, where the project team leased four acres of land. That way, the perfect trees could be held until they were ready to put them in. While waiting in Sunol, arborists from McGuire and Hester reportedly cared for the trees. As the trees waited, they grew, so the arborists had to transfer them into larger boxes when they outgrew the boxes they arrived in.


The trees took decades to grow, so obviously, the project leaders had to make sure there were trees available to them. Shipping from great distances can damage trees.

While the trees wait, workers waterproof the roof and add a layer of foam that will go beneath the soil where each tree is planted. Because the trees are mature, they need to pay close attention to the direction of growth as well. A tree’s box is labeled with spray-painted “N” for North so that the trees have the best shot of surviving the transplant.

“These are important trees,” landscape architect Adam Greenspan said of the Chinese elms that would be planted on the roof of the transit center. “And hard to find. Even though you see them around, there are not that many being grown these days.”

It seems that if California is going to keep up with its own demand for bringing the forest into the city, future plans may have to include choosing faster-growing trees in their designs or transplanting wild trees, which would undoubtedly be a more complicated process than moving trees from nurseries.

[Featured Image by Apple]