Landscaping, including trees and shrubs, are required for all commercial developments, including public and private entities and apartment complexes. All developments are required to have some of their property set aside for landscaping and trees. This includes the areas adjacent to the street, around their property lines, next to their building and throughout their parking lot. The standards are specific to the zone the development is in, the use on the property and the rules that were in place when the development was built. Trees, shrubs and landscaping are an important element in our overall Tree Canopy, in reducing stormwater runoff, reducing the heat island effect, improving the walking experience and beautifying Salem.
Businesses and property owners are required by the Salem Revised Code to maintain their required landscaping, including trees, in good condition so as to present a healthy, neat, and orderly appearance. Maintenance includes proper trimming and watering including maintaining the irrigation system, if one was required at the time of development.
Can I remove trees or shrubs at my business?
Trees and shrubs must be replaced if unhealthy, dead or dying. Replacement of dead or dying trees and shrubs is a requirement as part of your responsibility to maintain the landscaping. Removal of healthy trees is not allowed without review by the Planning Division. Removal of healthy trees may require a land use application and/or replanting the trees at a ratio of 2:1. Additionally, certain types of trees are protected and may require a permit for removal, regardless of your landscaping requirements.
Can I cut or 'top' my trees?
Some businesses may be concerned that the required trees will block the view of their signage or business and may want to cut or drastically trim their trees. Removing more than 30 percent of the crown of a tree (also known as topping) is considered removal of the tree and may result in the requirement to remove the tree, replant two trees for each one topped and/or civil penalties. While small trees may temporarily block a business's sign, trees that are allowed to grow unimpeded will eventually be tall enough that line of sight will be possible below the tree's branches.
Can I swap out my trees or shrubs for different species?
Landscaping requirements include a percentage of shade trees and requirements for plants that grow to a certain size and height. You can replace dead or dying trees or shrubs with the same or similar species, but you should not replace a shade tree with an ornamental tree or replace large shrubs with ones that are much smaller. The Planning Division can help with these specific questions based on what is required for your property and what was originally approved.
Can I store materials, merchandise, vehicles for sale, etc., in my landscaped areas?
No. Required landscaped area are for trees, shrubs, bark dust, mulch, decorative stones, water features, etc., but cannot be used to display merchandise, store materials, or any other non-landscape activity. Some areas may be converted to pedestrian plazas with paving stones and benches, after consultation and approval by the Planning Division. Any act that damages the trees is considered the same as removing the tree and may result in requirements to replant the trees at a ratio of 2:1 and civil penalties. The following is a list of prohibited activities that may damage or kill shrubs and trees: application of toxic substances, operation of equipment and vehicles, storage of materials, change of natural grade due to unapproved excavation or filling, or unapproved alteration of natural physical conditions.
Can I pave my landscaped areas?
No. Required landscaped areas cannot be paved without prior approval from the Planning Division.
What about this ditch or basin area with plants?
Many developments have green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) that may have a ditch or basin to hold and store water and include low plantings that are intended to clean the water before it is released into the stormwater system. These are usually part of the approved stormwater system for your property, and for some sites, these areas are also counted towards your landscaping requirements. These areas cannot be paved, filled in or have the plantings removed without prior approval from the Planning Division and the Public Works Department.