City of Alexandria 2019 Landscape Guidelines

The Landscape Guidelines set minimum standards for landscape plans, installation of landscape improvements and maintenance. The 2019 update builds upon the initial version in 1997 and first update in 2007 and aligns the City’s standards with current industry best practices, recent changes to City policies and procedures, and includes new sections detailing the approval processes.

Page updated on Jan 13, 2020 at 4:48 PM

 Updates:


Reference Standards

The following links represent the minimum external reference standards for landscape plan submissions to the City of Alexandria.  


City Standard Landscape Details

The linked landscape details include the minimum requirements for plant construction details on development plans. The details required for an individual project may vary depending on the type of project and site conditions. 


Standard Landscape Plan Notes

The following notes shall be provided on landscape plan submissions for all projects that require approval by the City as outlined in chapter 3 of the City's 2019 Landscape Guidelines:

  1. The property owner and/or applicant, specifier, contractor and installer of plant material are responsible for understanding and adhering to the standards set forth in the most recent version of the city of Alexandria Landscape Guidelines and applicable conditions of approval. All questions regarding application of, or adherence to, the standards and/or conditions of approval shall be directed to the city prior to commencement of demolition, construction, or any land disturbing activity.
  2. The City-approved city-approved landscape plan submission, including plant schedule, notes and details shall be the document used for installation purposes and all procedures set forth in the landscape guidelines must be followed.  
  3. The contractor contractor shall not interfere with any tree protection measures or impact any existing vegetation identified to be preserved per the approved tree and vegetation protection plan. 
  4. Any changes, alterations or modifications to the site conditions that affect vegetation protection zones will require an amendment to the approved tree and vegetation protection plan and/or details. 
  5. Installation of plant material may only occur during the planting seasons identified in the landscape guidelines.
  6. In lieu of more strenuous specifications, all landscape related work shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the current and most up-to-date edition (at time of construction) of Landscape Specification Guidelines as produced by the Landscape Contractors Association of Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia; Gaithersburg, Maryland. 
  7. Substitutions to the approved plant material shall not occur until written approval is provided by the City..
  8. Maintenance for this project shall be performed by the owner, applicant, successor(s) and/or assign(s) in perpetuity and in compliance with City of Alexandria Landscape Guidelines and as conditioned by project approval, as applicable.

In addition to the notes provided above, the following notes shall be provided on landscape plan submissions for all DSP/DSUP projects: 

  1. The approved method(s) of protection must be in place for all vegetation to be preserved on-site and adjacent to the project site pursuant to the approved tree and vegetation protection plan and details prior to commencement of demolition, construction, or any land disturbance. The applicant shall notify the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) project manager once the tree protection methods are in place. No demolition, construction, or land disturbance may occur until an inspection is performed by the City and written confirmation is provided by the City which verifies correct installation of the tree protection measures.
  2. The applicant must contact the P&Z project manager prior to commencement of landscape installation/planting operation to schedule a pre-installation meeting. The meeting should be held between the applicant's general contractor, landscape contractor, landscape architect, the P&Z project manager and the City Arborist (as applicable) to review the scope of installation procedures and processes during and after installation. 
  3. The following information shall be provided to the P&Z project manager at least five (5) business days prior to the landscape pre-installation meeting: 1) a letter that certifies that the project landscape architect performed pre-selection tagging for all trees proposed within the public right of way and on public land prior to installation. This letter must be signed and sealed by the project landscape architect, and 2) a copy of the soil bulk density test report verifying that maximum compression rates are met.
  4. All construction waste shall be removed prior to planting.

  5.  As-built drawings for this landscape and/or irrigation/water management system will be provided in compliance with City of Alexandria Landscape Guidelines, the City Code of Ordinances, and all applicable plan preparation checklists. As-built drawings shall include clear identification of all variation(s) and changes from approved drawings including location, quantity and specification of all project elements.
  6. Areas of bare soil will not be accepted. Mulched areas and planting areas shall be weed free upon acceptance of the project by the City.

Standard Tree Preservation Notes for all Plans Requiring Approval

The following notes shall be provided on landscape plan submissions for all projects with preservation areas:

  1. Vegetation designated for protection and/or preservation shall continuously receive an enhanced level of maintenance throughout the entire construction period.
    • Maintenance shall be pro-active.
    • Maintenance operations shall aggressively monitor the health, growth and vigor of vegetation and prescribe selective pruning, removal of volunteer and/or invasive species, watering, fertilization and installation of mulch/topdressing.
    • When preserved vegetation is located on city property, maintenance shall be performed to the satisfaction of the City. 
  2. Areas designated for protection and/or preservation of vegetation shall not be entered or utilized (approved maintenance procedures and watering excepted) throughout the entire construction period. Prohibited items/activities include, but are not limited to: 
    • Modifying site topography in a manner that directly or indirectly alters existing site drainage within protection zone including trenching or grading operations and placing, storing or stockpiling soil or construction related supplies.
    • Felling and storing vegetation. Iii. Incinerating materials within or in close proximity. 
    • Operating machinery or equipment, including vehicle/equipment parking or storage. 
    • Temporary or permanent utility construction, paving or impervious surface installation.  
    • Disposal of debris or chemicals. Vii. Temporary facilities or occupation by work force. 
    • Storage of construction materials or waste.

PDF of Tree Preservation Notes


Plant Lists and Canopy Coverage Allowances

This list is not intended to be all-inclusive and is an example of acceptable species: 

For further information on Alexandria Natives, click here.


Invasive Plant Lists

Plant species appearing on the following advisory lists are prohibited from use. Native plants are occasionally listed on the following links due to their potential to aggressively colonize agricultural landscapes. For the purposes of compliance with these Landscape Guidelines, native plants found on these lists are not considered invasive and may be utilized in plantings within the City of Alexandria.


City Plans and Standards Links

The Landscape Guidelines work in conjunction with a number of existing City plans, policies, and guidelines. Links to specific documents are listed below. 


2019 Landscape Guidelines Update Process

  • For additional information on the update process, click here.
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