Landscape Policies

Adopted 3/7/91
Amended 8/l/91

The purpose of these policies are to protect and promote the public health, safety, and welfare by establishing standards of practice for the preservation of native vegetation, trees and the landscape improvements of all developed areas in order to better control erosion and the transport of sediment, improve the environmental quality of surface and groundwater, screen wind, light and noise, and preserve, protect and enhance wildlife.


Any application for subdivision, except those utilizing the affordable housing district shall submit a landscape plan which addresses street trees, windbreaks, wildlife corridors, screening and buffers. The plan shall be prepared by a registered professional forester, landscape architect or professional with equivalent experience and qualifications. The plan shall show in sufficient detail:

  1. All existing vegetation to be preserved, the location, general size and type of all significant vegetation;
  2. Location of proposed landscape material - including spacing;
  3. Species to be planted - botanical and common name;
  4. Quantity of each species;
  5. Six (6) inches above ground for nursery stock; height of shrubs; containers sized in gallons;
  6. Typical planting detail using American Association of Nurseryman standards;
  7. Specify container, balled and burlapped, bareroot, or pots;
  8. Plantings should be shown on the approved site plan where possible;
  9. Estimate cost including installation and maintenance; and
  10. Planting schedule.


I. General Standards

  1. All subdivisions shall provide the following:
    1. Street trees;
    2. Wildlife corridors;
    3. Screens and buffers as may be required; and
    4. Woodland reforestation or afforestation.
  2. In developing landscape plans, windbreaks shall be considered;
  3. Whenever possible, existing forests, tree lines, and hedgerows shall be preserved and expanded. Wildlife corridors, screens, buffer areas, and windbreaks shall, whenever possible connect or expand existing forests;
  4. All proposals shall include a mixture of coniferous, deciduous trees, and shrubs;
  5. All proposals shall include both fast and slow growing species;
  6. Where plant groupings which serve a dual function, such as windbreaks, wildlife corridors, and reforestation/afforestation the strictest standards shall apply;
  7. Maintenance - See Section VII; and
  8. Subdivision developed under the Affordable Housing District shall provide landscaping but do not have to meet the size and spacing criteria provided in these policies.


  1. Street trees shall be included in each subdivision.
  2. Street trees may be clustered, evenly spaced or when building envelopes are located within 20 feet of the county road right-of-way, as the front yard landscape tree.
  3. The number of trees required shall be calculated as follows:
    1. Small trees (those trees less than 25 feet in height at maturity) - I per 25 feet of lot or open space;
    2. Medium and large trees (taller than 25 feet at maturity) - I per 40 feet of lot or open space; and
    3. Large lot subdivisions (20 acres or more) - I per 150 foot of lot or open space.

    Unless otherwise approved by the County Roads or State Department, street trees shall be planted a minimum of ten feet from the county road right-of-way. Coniferous trees shall be located a minimum of 15 feet from the right-of-way.

  4. Subdivisions which combine lot sizes shall follow the strictest standard.
  5. Size:
    Deciduous - Minimum of 2-3 inch caliber at a height 6" above grade height;
    Coniferous - Minimum 5 to 6 foot in height.


  1. Windbreaks shall contain mixtures of deciduous and/or coniferous trees with the deciduous trees forced down in the leeward rows of the windbreak.
  2. Shrubs shall be planted along the windward edge of a windbreak to increase its density.
  3. Tall growing species with narrow columnar habitats of growth shall be avoided. Eastern Red Cedar, Loblolly Pine, Arborvitae, and other species with low wind tolerance shall also be avoided.


  1. Landscaped buffers will be used to accomplish the following:
    1. Increase infiltration;
    2. Improve water quality;
    3. Screen the effects of incompatible activities on adjacent or nearby properties.
  2. Whenever possible, existing vegetation and landform will be used in the establishment of
    landscaped buffer areas.
  3. Landscaped buffer areas will be designed to complement other landscaping occurring naturally on the site, planted previously, or accomplished through this ordinance.
  4. Landscaped buffer areas will include functional and well-designed combinations of the following:
    1. Vegetative ground cover.
    2. Coniferous and deciduous shrubs -
      1. Specimens of which will reach and maintain a minimum height of 5 feet of full vegetative growth;
      2. Plants will measure a minimum of 3 feet in heights at the time of planting and are expected to attain a 5 foot height within 3 years of planting.
    3. Coniferous and deciduous trees -
      1. Species and sizes of which will be chosen to best accomplish an adequate buffer (i.e. evergreens used for visual screening, deciduous trees for seasonal buffers, etc.) All plantings are subject to review and approval by the Planning Commission and its staff or its delegated agent.

Planted wildlife corridors will be created to provide uninterrupted corridors connecting areas of forest, woodlands, waterways, wetlands, and other natural habitats for animal life. Corridors will be created at many levels including on the ground, within bushes and shrubs, in waterways, within the forest canopy, and in the air.

  1. Whenever possible existing corridors will be preserved and enhanced throughout the development process to protect wildlife in the corridor.
  2. A wildlife corridor may serve a dual purpose in some cases as a buffer screen windbreak, and as an enhancement to open space.
  3. Standards:
    1. Wildlife corridors will be a minimum of 30 feet in width at the narrowest point.
    2. A variety of plant types will be utilized in creating or enhancing a wildlife -corridor including coniferous shrubs and trees, deciduous shrubs and trees, and appropriate vegetative ground cover. Species shall be of a variety with beneficial properties for wildlife.
    3. A variety of plant sizes will be provided to create a diverse habitat for various plant and animal species.
    4. Linkages with existing corridors and other natural habitats will be created when the opportunity exists.

VI. Woodland & Reforestation, and Afforestation Standards

  1. The replacement or establishment of forest or developed woodlands shall assure a diversified plant population by including a canopy layer, an understory layer, and a shrub layer. Other types of plantings may be approved where it is necessary to correct an existing soil stabilization problem.
  2. Species may be chosen from a recommended plant list made available from the Maryland Forest, Park and Wildlife Service species that vary from that list may be substituted if approved by the Project or Bay Forester. Species shall be approved by the Bay or Project Forester for suitability with regard to its eventual size and spread; tolerance to disease and pest; and adaptability to existing soil and climate conditions.
  3. For each acre of land to be planted, plantings generally shall consist of trees or wildlife plantings spaced approximately at 8 foot intervals in rows eight feet apart or less, or other suitable spacing as determined by the Bay or Project Forester on a site by site basis. At a minimum, at least 400 trees per acre shall be established after the first growing season.
  4. Within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area plants should be a minimum of 4-5 feet in height or a minimum age of 6 year transplants, whichever is greater in size.
    Outside the Critical Area, whips or a combination of seedlings and 2-3 foot trees, a minimum of 4-5 year old trees shall be provided.

The property owner shall be responsible for the continued proper maintenance of all landscape materials and shall keep them in a proper neat and orderly appearance, free from refuse and debris at all times. All unhealthy or dead plant material shall be replaced within six months or by the next planting season, whichever comes first. In buffers, screens, wildlife corridors and windbreaks, trees shall be replaced at a rate of I new to I removed tree, unless healthy material deliberately removed. When vegetation will be removed at a rate of 1.5 new to I tree removed. Proper maintenance shall include watering, weeding, mowing, mulching, fertilizing and pruning.


  1. Prior to final approval of the site plan or subdivision, the developer shall enter into an agreement with the county to provide completed plantings and shall post an irrevocable letter of credit, bond, or other surety with the County Commissioners.
  2. If all the plantings are not completed within three years of approval or if the approved landscape plan is not followed, the surety or bond shall be forfeited and shall be used to complete the landscape plan as approved.
  3. The bond or other surety shall be held for a period of 18 months after installation of plantings to assure proper maintenance and growth. Failure to maintain the vegetation and to replace dead plants or trees shall result in a forfeiture of the posted bond or other surety.
  4. Prior to the, release of the bond, the site shall be inspected by the County upon notification -by the developer to assure proper maintenance and installation.