When I was a child my father bought a live potted tree for the holidays, and then planted it in the garden in January. That tree thrived and grew to be over 20 feet high. It's still there. I think it's a Douglas Fur.
Now most of us urban dwellers don't have anywhere to legally plant a tree, but Friends of the Urban Forest will provide the tree and then plant it for you in SF after the holidays.
FUF will also come to your neighbourhood and line your street with trees. They did this here on Hugo St a few years ago. I don't know how a tree can grow in sand, but they're growing.