What are the City Wide Design Review Guidelines in Phoenix, AZ?

Below you will find information on the city-wide design review guidelines for Phoenix, Arizona. The local government of Phoenix set up specific guidelines to maintain the unique terrain. These regulations are enforced to guide the community on how to successfully design and maintain their landscape.

Here at the Premiere Tree Services of Phoenix, our tree specialists are your go-to-guy for helpful tree removal, landscaping, palm tree removal, and general tree services tips. We’re also committed to keeping our community safe by informing them on the latest Phoenix, AZ tree regulations updates.

Landscape Architecture

  1. Plant Materials
    1. Development should minimize the removal of existing, non-native healthy plants (trees 4″ caliper in diameter) or greater) and cacti (6′ high or greater). If removal is necessary, mature trees should be salvaged and utilized on site. (P) +10 *14
      Rationale: Healthy non-native plant material contributes to the historical context and neighborhood identity of an area and is a resource that provides shade and screening which would take years to replace. +10 *14
    2. At installation, the landscape palette should contain a mixed maturity consisting of 60% of trees with 2-inch minimum caliper and 40% with minimum 1-inch caliper in accordance with Arizona Nursery Association Standards. (P) *14
      Rationale: Mixing maturities creates a more mature looking landscape at installation and promotes greater plant survival.
    3. Low water use plants that reflect and enhance the image of the Sonoran Desert should be used. (P) +3
      Rationale: Water conservation and community image should be important criteria for plant material selection.
    4. A gradual transition of landscape material should be provided where different oasis and arid landscape themes are proposed among adjacent uses. (P) +14
      Rationale: A gradual or consistent landscape treatment among adjacent uses serves to unify the urban fabric. +14
    5. Any proposed landscape treatment should be compatible with and relate to any established distinctive character in the surrounding context area. (P) *14
      Rationale: Landscape treatment that reflects the distinctive character of the surrounding area can help to create a sense of place and enhance the character of the community. *14
    6. Street tree improvements shall be made in accordance with adopted streetscape designs for each street or as approved by Planning and Development Department staff. (R) +14
      Rationale: Street trees provide another form of shading and produce a more attractive environment. +14
    7. Landscape should relate to and reinforce any established identifiable streetscape. (P) *14
      Rationale: Consistent landscaping enhances the existing character of an area and aids in the creation of a sense of place. *14
    8. Areas proposed for revegetation should be planted on maximum 4:1 slopes. A 3:1 slope for revegetation may be considered if additional natural features and/or vegetation can be preserved. (P) *14
      Rationale: Sites should be designed to minimize erosion, steep slopes, should be stabilized with vegetation, rock or other measures. *14
    9. Coordinate site utility elements such as overhead power lines, transformers, meter boxes, backflow preventers, and fire protection devices, with landscape design to effectively diminish the impact of such elements on the site character. (P) *14
      Rationale: Coordinating the landscape design with placement of utility elements helps to mitigate their impact and reduce the potential for conflicts as the landscaping matures.
    10. Trees adjacent to pedestrian walkways should have a minimum canopy clearance of six feet eight inches. (P)
      Rationale: Clear walkways are necessary for pedestrian safety.
    11. Pedestrian safety and comfort should be considered when selecting trees and plant material. (P) *14
      Rationale: Trees or other plant materials which drop fruit, pods or nuts, shed bark, or are prone to drop branches can create a danger to pedestrian safety.
    12. Landscape plant material selection and placement along perimeter walls should function to discourage graffiti. (P) +10
      Rationale: When the surface area of a wall is decreased, the opportunity for graffiti is also reduced. +10 *14
    13. No more than 50% of the landscaped area at maturity or 10% of the net lot area, whichever is less, should be planted in turf or high water use plants. Functional turf areas such as in parks, schools, multiple-family and single-family common areas, individual single-family lot, and golf courses are exempt. (P) +3 *14
      Rationale: The Sonoran Desert environment of Phoenix requires a careful balance of the amount of landscaping and the minimization of water consumption. Landscaping should be used to cool the environment, shade buildings, and improve air quality; high water uselandscaping such as turf grass should be limited to areas where they are required for the function of the area. +3
    14. A minimum 50% of the landscaped area at maturity (excluding hardscape areas) should be treated with living vegetation including groundcover, shrubs and trees, as well as inorganic material and an automatic irrigation system. (P) +3 *14
      Rationale: An adequate covering of living vegetation helps to mitigate the “heat island” effect and is consistent with the Sonoran Desert composition of scattered plant massings. *14
    15. If allowed by specific provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, the placement of recycling containers in a required landscape setback or required landscaped island should not result in the elimination of any required trees. (P) +21
  2. Maintenance.
    1. Native Sonoran Desert vegetation should not be pruned or removed from areas identified on approved plans as permanent undisturbed open space unless demonstrated to the City that a health, safety or welfare issue exists. This includes removal of dead trees or cacti. (P) +14
      Rationale: Sonoran Desert wildlife is dependent on the habitat created by the natural environment. Dead trees, fallen saguaros and low growth on trees provide cover for a variety of native wildlife. +14
    2. Landscape treatment must be used for the entire site exclusive of building(s) and pavement for vehicular use. (R) *3 *14
      Rationale: Development should project an image that the entire site has been considered and appropriately treated in the design of the development. *4
    3. Irrigation systems should be permanent and automatic to minimize maintenance and water consumption. (P) *14
      Rationale: An efficient irrigation system will control growth and reduce maintenance costs.
    4. Phased developments shall indicate a mechanism for dust, weed, and debris control on undeveloped portions of the site. (R) *14
      Rationale: Disturbed portions of sites which are undeveloped often become unsightly and hazardous due to lack of proper maintenance. *14
  3. Hardscape.
    1. Commercial pads and freestanding commercial buildings less than 5,000 square feet should contain usable hardscape for pedestrian circulation and foundation planting to create an attractive visual identity. (P) +14
      Rationale: Commercial pads should be attractively landscaped and functional for ease of pedestrian use. +14
    2. Pavement materials along pedestrian routes and gathering areas should be chosen to minimize reflected light and glare. (P) +14
      Rationale: Pedestrian routes and gathering areas should be designed with appropriate hardscape materials to enhance the pedestrian experience. +14
    3. Consider indigenous and alternative paving materials which permit the infiltration of water, yet still provide accessibility to the physically disabled. (C) *14
      Rationale: Infiltration of water reduces runoff.
  4. Art/Water Elements.
    1. Water features, including fountains, should be sited to allow significant environmental enhancement primarily to on-site and incidentally to off-site users and to minimize water consumption. (P) +5
      Rationale: Water features can provide relief from the extreme desert temperatures, but should be used sparingly with every attempt made to limit the amount of water used. For a City in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix should project an image of using its limited water resources as efficiently as possible for the benefit of its citizens. *14
    2. If there is public art, it should be integrated into the overall design of a project. (P)
      Rationale: Public art creates a greater impact if integrated into the overall design of the site.

The information contained in this website has been provided for informational purposes only. It is general in nature, and should not be mistaken for specific legal advice. All information on this website is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or correctness, and without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied.

The professionals at Premiere Tree Services of Phoenix are here for you! Call on us for your next tree removal, palm skinning, or cactus removal needs. You’re simply a call or click away from getting started. Contact us by phone at (480) 745-1437, by email phoenix@premieretreeservices.com, or visit us at 125 N. 2nd St. Ste. 110-564 Phoenix, AZ 85004.

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