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Landscaping Tree save area, green space preservation and landscape requirements


As some of you know, we are tossing our old regulations into the trash and starting fresh. With that, we want to make sure that we are environmentally friendly in our regs. So I ask the following:

How much of the area for a development is required to remain undisturbed? Is it a running or scaled percentage? Does it need to be wooded or does grass or ag land count?

What are some of the details of your shade tree requirements for residential lots, buffers, parking lots, or street trees?
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luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
I am not a big fan of hard and fast buffer requirements because "it depends" - I have very specific buffer requirements where I am no that I will send to you privately - send me a PM with your email.

I am getting rid of parking lot interior landscaping in a current draft I am working on and thickening the width of the landscaping buffer along the roadways. I give a reduction in this buffer if they use interior parking lot landscaping though for storm water management/treatment (so it's an incentive to do this) - ugly parking lots are more ugly from the street, if you are driving in them, they are more functional to park your car so why not block the view from outside. Vegetation in those islands never does well and ends up being a trash receptacle unless they are used for stormwater (because they have to be larger so the vegetation has a fighting chance to survive.) I will send you the new language as well as proposed.

I do think a hard and fast street tree planting works well as that is standard in the profession.

The undisturbed requirement is tough because if you don't require a permit to remove vegetation (an administrative nightmare) then developers will just go in and clear cut before seeking permits (and that's been done) - however if you have a decent flyover for your GIS, you can "catalogue" the vegetated areas so you would have a base to work from but again, that requires a lot of oversight and staff hours which you may or may not have

Requiring native plants is important but remember the plant map is changing as climate is changing but for now, I'd have that lnaguage in there for native species.

I used to have a requirement that landscape plans in certain districts or subdivisions with a certain number of lots had to have an LA stamp on them but I haven't tried that yet here (baby steps) - it's a good way to at least try to get some good design practice in your community.


They only real preservation we have is hillside/mountain areas. We only allow 35% to be graded. The rest must stay natural desert or be revegetated that way.
For shade we only require it on bigger projects really, but we get things like:
  • 5-15% landscaping in parking lots (all projects)
  • subdivisions will have tree lines detached sidewalks. In heavy pedestrian areas we go with double lined.
  • downtown requires shade for all pedestrian areas based on summer solstice. Kind of sucks when you're doing that in Arizona, but buildings do provide shade.
  • Giant parking lots are required to have a pedestrian path that is shaded.