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Thread: Residential landscaping standards

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Residential landscaping standards

    I have been charged with coming up with basic residential landscaping standards. Anyone have any I can steal? I mean do some research on?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    We regulate what the developer has to put in. The street scape is highly controlled (or at least the city thinks so). Plant so many trees every so many feet. We also require the builder to plant or give planting options for the front yard. But if it's a custom home we don't regulate any landscaping for them.
    If you want the plans, i'll send you a link.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Seems to me that its a pretty rare thing for cities to regulate landscaping for single- and two-family. I'd be interested to see who does it.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lyburnum View post
    Seems to me that its a pretty rare thing for cities to regulate landscaping for single- and two-family. I'd be interested to see who does it.
    It does sound like something a HOA would do, however. There was a TV news story yesterday about some HOA trying to force a homeowner to move her American flag to the backyard.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I probably should explain why I am asking. We allow "vacation rental dwellings" in our residential zones. What has been happening is that they end up with the entire front yard paved for parking and the rest covered with bark dust or gravel so there is no need for landscape maintenance. The neighbors don't like this because it detracts from the residential character of the neighborhood. So we want to set some standards on how the yards should be landscaped to reduce the effects on the surrounding properties.

    Checking some CC&Rs is a good idea to see what they require.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Maybe the lots aren't big enough to handle the extra vacation rentals? We allow builders to provide options for a 3rd car garage or casita, but we still get some landscaping between the addition and the street. This is during the initial build only, after that we don't regulate the persons house except by setbacks and lot coverage (seems to be a lot coverage issue). Also, the CC&R's cover a lot of the future problems. Good luck...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Good luck friend.

    All I have seen are silly covenants saying no clothes lines, no vegetable patches etc.

    I have heard of "spiffy" ordinances that specify grass blade height etc.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    What do you think of this:

    1. Area. A minimum of 40 percent of the lot must be landscaped.
    2. Front yard. A minimum of 50 percent of the front yard (the area between the side lot lines, the front lot line, and the front of the dwelling) must be landscaped.
    3. Hardscape features. A maximum of 50 percent of the required landscape area may consist of hardscape features such as patios and decks, but not swimming pools, sport courts, driveways, or parking areas.
    4. Non-living-plant ground covers. Bark dust, chips, aggregate, or other non-living-plant ground covers may be used, but may cover no more than 25 percent of the area to be landscaped.
    5. Plants. The use of native and drought-tolerant plant species is encouraged. Plants shall be species that are known to thrive in the Northern Oregon coastal environment, and either listed in the Otisville Tree Planting Guide & List of Recommended Species, or recommended by a licensed nurseryman as being suitable for the local climate, as approved by the Planning and Community Development Director. The use of noxious or invasive plant species is prohibited.
    6. Shrub size. Shrubs shall be planted from three gallon containers or larger.
    7. Ground cover size. Ground cover plants shall be sized and spaced so that they grow together to cover a minimum of 50 percent of the underlying soil with in three years of planting.
    8. Maintenance and irrigation. Irrigation shall be provided for all plants until they are established and for permanently for all plants that are not drought tolerant. The owner must maintain all plantings in good condition and must replace with like plants any plants that are removed or die for any reason.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Would a more simple restriction on the % impervious area work? I do not care for the word 'irrigation' in the last item.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    ...hardscape features such as patios and decks, but not swimming pools, sport courts, driveways, or parking areas.
    Consider being more specific about hardscapes. Just off the top of my head...

    Fences and gates within the property?
    Sheds?
    Doghouses?
    "Houses" for small domestic pets?
    Dog corrals?
    Gazebos?
    Statues?
    Lawn sculptures?
    Bird feeders?
    Children's playground structures? (Sandboxes?)
    Permanent benches?
    Permanent swings that act as benches?
    Flagpoles? How many? How high? How much concrete around them?
    Permanent clothesline racks? (They have been known to 'materialize' in huge sizes...)

    For each of the above you allow, give maximum dimensions.

    Consider going into a few hardscapes stores/warehouses to see what's being 'sold' to the public.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I agree with mike.

    Keep it simple and just establish a maximum impervious coverage requirement for the entire lot as well as the required front yard area.

    In our single-family districts, we generally allow a max of 50% impervious for the entire lot and a max 50% for the required front yard area.

    As impervious, we include everything that doesn't allow water to go through it into the ground - all buildings, driveways, patios, walkways, pools, sport courts, etc. We do allow for flexibility when nonconforming driveways are replaced. They can be replaced so as to allow access to required garage/parking areas.

    As a comment, I think all the landscaping material and infrastructure requirements you propose would be near impossible to enforce, unless you have the man power and/or bureaucratic/political will.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by mendelman; 28 Apr 2009 at 2:02 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    ...I think all the landscaping material and infrastructure requirements you propose would be near impossible to enforce, unless you have the man power and bureaucratic/political will.
    I agree--but at least with regard to hardscapes, it's far easier to have a detailed code that's often not well-enforced--due to *extenuating circumstances*-- then to have vague code, and then have to add more ordinances in the future due to a serious issues.

  13. #13
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    As an comment, I think all the landscaping material and infrastructure requirements you propose would be near impossible to enforce, unless you have the man power and bureaucratic/political will.
    To add: The standards may be impossible to enforce after initial approval/construction.

    What if a shrub dies 5 years later and is removed but not replaced? How will your enforcers know and/or be able to doing anything about it.

    Additionally, if you require an irrigation system, is the system going to be inspected on a specific schedule to make sure they are maintained and operational?

    Seems like you may be making this unnecessarily complicated.
    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    I agree--but at least with regard to hardscapes, it's far easier to have a detailed code that's often not well-enforced--due to *extenuating circumstances*-- then to have vague code, and then have to add more ordinances in the future due to a serious issues.
    That may be sensible, but due to the practice of law in many places, if you have requirements that are never or seldom enforced, you could run the risk of them being negated if challenged in court - aka "Use it or lose it."
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    ???

    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I have been charged with coming up with basic residential landscaping standards. Anyone have any I can steal? I mean do some research on?
    What are these landscape standards you speak of? Your big city way's scare me
    Skilled Adoxographer

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Additionally, if you require an irrigation system, is the system going to be inspected on a specific schedule to make sure they are maintained and operational?

    Seems like you may be making this unnecessarily complicated.
    Irrigation code must be included because of what Otis wrote:
    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    We allow "vacation rental dwellings" in our residential zones.
    That vacationers don't always properly irrigate** the rental property is an understatement.

    But there's no need to ask/require vacationers to do this chore if irrigation systems are in the code. Renters can simply program the automatic timers for their irrigation systems, (which are usually lawn sprinklers installed underground at specified intervals).




    **Here come the vacationers irrigating premises jokes...?

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    But there's no need to ask/require vacationers to do this chore if irrigation systems are in the code. Renters can simply program the automatic timers for their irrigation systems, (which are usually lawn sprinklers installed underground at specified intervals).
    But many owner-occupied properties don't have irrigation systems and the grass usually grows just fine. It does on the ~10,000 sqft of lawn at the house I rent, which doesn't have an irrigation system.

    How would a vacation rental be different? The muni and/or leasor needs to make sure that people don't park on the grass or otherwise harm it and it will do just fine. provided the grass type or landscaping in general is appropriate for the local climate..
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    But many owner-occupied properties don't have irrigation systems and the grass usually grows just fine. It does on the ~10,000 sqft of lawn at the house I rent, which doesn't have an irrigation system.
    Which muni does Otis serve? (Or vice-versa?) I don't know the muni, and it's certainly none of my B.I...

    Otis mentioned the word "drought". Also, if his preliminary list includes irrigation systems for landscaping, I assume that the land needs them.

    mendelman, am I assuming incorrectly?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I do not care for the word 'irrigation' in the last item.
    We take irrigation to mean watering. We allow "manual irrigation." The idea is to water the plants until they get established. Summer winds (coupled with salt from the ocean, which gets carried off the waves by the wind) here are brutal on new plants and until they have year or two in the ground they dry out quickly and die.

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    I agree with mike.

    Keep it simple and just establish a maximum impervious coverage requirement for the entire lot as well as the required front yard area.

    In our single-family districts, we generally allow a max of 50% impervious for the entire lot and a max 50% for the required front yard area.

    As impervious, we include everything that doesn't allow water to go through it into the ground - all buildings, driveways, patios, walkways, pools, sport courts, etc. We do allow for flexibility when nonconforming driveways are replaced. They can be replaced so as to allow access to required garage/parking areas.

    As a comment, I think all the landscaping material and infrastructure requirements you propose would be near impossible to enforce, unless you have the man power and/or bureaucratic/political will.

    Good luck!
    We allow 35% lot coverage for the dwelling and anything else that needs a building permit. Driveway, sidewalks, etc not counted toward this coverage. We also say that everything that doesn't have a building on it and is not paved has to be landscaped. The problem is that we don't say what "landscaping" consists of, and we are getting pure gravel or bark dust. This is not the desert where stone landscaping makes sense and is accepted, even encouraged. We have an annual cycle of much rain (about 80-100 inches a year) in the fall, winter, and early spring, then no rain at all for three or four months in the summer. One of the hardest things to do here regarding landscaping is to not grow blackberries. There is a feeling that we need some level of specificity, but I do like your simple approach. I'll have to think about it.

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    To add: The standards may be impossible to enforce after initial approval/construction.

    What if a shrub dies 5 years later and is removed but not replaced? How will your enforcers know and/or be able to doing anything about it.

    Additionally, if you require an irrigation system, is the system going to be inspected on a specific schedule to make sure they are maintained and operational?

    Seems like you may be making this unnecessarily complicated.

    That may be sensible, but due to the practice of law in many places, if you have requirements that are never or seldom enforced, you could run the risk of them being negated if challenged in court - aka "Use it or lose it."
    This is being done in the context of our vacation rental dwelling permitting process. The get a permit you would have to comply with the standards, and to get an annual renewal you would have to demonstrate continued compliance. We do have the staff and will to do this. We have a position that is dedicated solely to vacation rental processing and enforcement. It is a big deal in our community.

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