Evanston Tree Ordinance
[Amended by Ord. No. 85-7; 7-20-2004 by Ord. No. 04-09; 4-4-2006 by Ord. No. 06-03]
(1) The purpose of landscaping requirements is to provide information and details which will enable property to be landscaped in a reasonable manner. There is an economic and aesthetic value to landscaped areas. Plant materials add value to property. Attractive, well-designed landscaped areas enhance the appearance of property. Landscaping impacts the physical environment through microclimatic considerations such as humidity, shade, and cooling. Landscaping impacts the sensory environment through visual and olfactory considerations. Plant materials absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, filter dust and dirt particles from the air, function as buffers for noise and visual considerations, and provide habitat for wildlife.
(2) The Evanston area is part of an arid, high-desert region. Water conservation, drought-tolerant plant materials, the use of non-living materials, and xeriscaping are important considerations. Xeriscaping is the practice of water and energy conservation through good planning and design that offers practical lawn areas, provides for efficient irrigation, improves soil, encourages the use of mulches and low-water-demand plants, and employs wise maintenance practices.
(3) Landscaping requirements promote these practices and the maintenance of landscaped areas. Well-designed landscaped areas following the requirements of this section will promote the general welfare of the community.
B. General requirements.
(1) Residential land uses, not reviewed under planned unit development procedures or reviewed as a single-family attached or a multifamily development with more than two dwelling units, are exempt from the provisions of this section.
(2) Applications for the development of land for all other land uses shall meet the requirements of this section unless otherwise noted.
(3) All refuse collection areas associated with development applications shall be buffered or screened from streets, alleys, and adjacent properties as outlined in this section.
(4) Commercial and industrial uses shall be separated from adjacent residential, public, and open space uses by buffering/screening methods as outlined in this section.
(5) All development shall meet the requirements for landscaped front yard and street side yard setback areas as outlined in § 24-16. In addition, the front yard and street side yard of a lot or parcel shall include landscaping from the property line to the street.
C. Landscape standards.
(1) Plant material shall be provided in the following quantities.
(a) For all zoning districts, including nonresidential uses in residential zoning districts, one tree is required per two thousand (2,000) square feet of property defined by setback areas.
(b) For all public and private usable open space areas in planned unit developments, one tree is required per two thousand (2,000) square feet of open space area. Not more than fifty (50) percent of open space areas shall be covered with a hard surface unless approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission through the conditional use permit process.
(c) A median in a public or private street shall be landscaped using a combination of living and non-living landscape materials.
(d) Except as otherwise noted in this section, at least seventy (70) percent of landscaped areas created to meet the requirements of this section shall be landscaped with living plant materials such as grass, wildflowers, perennials, groundcover, or shrub plantings. Plant material used for groundcover and shrub plantings shall be spaced to cover at least half of this area when mature. Exceptions to this provision may be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission through the conditional use permit process.
(e) For industrial developments, at least fifty (50) percent of landscaped areas created to meet the requirements of this section shall be landscaped with living plant materials such as grass, wildflowers, perennials, groundcover, or shrub plantings. Plant materials used for groundcover and shrub plantings shall be spaced to cover at least half of this area when mature. Exceptions to this provision may be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission through the conditional use permit process.
(f) Remaining required landscaped areas not landscaped with living plant materials shall be landscaped with non-living landscape materials, including but not limited to bark, gravel, rock, decorative integrally colored stamped concrete, brick, landscape pavers, and other similar materials.
(g) Artificial grass may be used in required landscaped areas but shall not exceed seventy (70) percent of this area. The remaining area may include living or non-living materials.
(a) All plant materials shall meet the following conditions:
 Deciduous trees shall be a minimum of two inches in caliper measured six inches above finished grade.
 Coniferous trees shall be a minimum of six (6) feet in height.
 Shrubs shall be a minimum of five (5) gallons in size.
 Ground covers shall be planted from flats.
(b) Landscaped areas shall be a minimum of five (5) feet wide.
(c) Trees planted in hard surface areas shall be planted in tree pits a minimum of four (4) feet by four (4) feet. Tree grates shall be required in areas of concentrated pedestrian use.
(3) Landscape materials.
(a) No artificial trees, shrub or synthetic ground cover shall be permitted, except for artificial grass as set forth in this section.
(b) Plant materials specified in the landscape plan shall be suitable to the local climate.
(c) If wood mulch is used in shrub bed and tree pit areas, the mulch shall be a minimum of three inches in depth.
(d) If landscape rock is used is shrub bed and tree pit areas, the rock shall have a five ounce per square yard weed barrier landscape fabric or equivalent installed under the rock area.
(a) Unless specified herein, all required landscape areas shall include an automatic irrigation system. Manual watering of required landscape areas may be allowed for areas up to one thousand (1,000) square feet in size.
(b) Irrigation plans shall be designed to conserve water and respond to local soil and climatic conditions.
(c) Irrigation plans shall be drawn to scale and shall provide the information required by the Planning office.
(d) Acceptable irrigation systems shall include one or any combination of the following: rotor, spray, impact sprinklers, bubblers, and drip irrigation.
(e) In areas protected from the wind, sprinkler heads shall be spaced no more than 60% of the diameter spray of the nozzle. In areas exposed to high wind conditions, sprinkler heads shall be spaced no more than 50% of the diameter spray of the nozzle.
(5) Buffering/screening methods.
(a) The following are acceptable methods of buffering and screening.
 A landscaped area shall be a minimum of ten (10) feet wide. This area shall be planted with coniferous and deciduous trees which will have sufficient mass and height when mature to reduce noise, light, and sight between properties.
 A raised earth berm in combination with plant materials as described above.
 A six (6) foot high fence or wall in combination with plant materials as described above. Fence or wall materials shall include but are not limited to wood, vinyl, recycled plastic, brick, decorative concrete, or similar material.
 A solid six (6) foot high fence or wall. Materials shall include but are not limited to wood, vinyl, recycled plastic, brick, decorative concrete, or similar material.
(b) Chain link fencing shall not be used for buffering or screening.
D. Maintenance. For occupied or unoccupied properties, reasonable care shall be exercised by the property owner, tenant(s), contracted landscape service, or property management service, to maintain all landscaped areas in the same or similar condition that existed at the time landscaped areas were constructed. Reasonable care means promoting a healthy weed-free environment for optimal plant growth. Dead or dying plant materials shall be replaced. Irrigation systems shall be kept in a good operating condition in order to maintain healthy landscaping and to conserve water. Landscaped areas that are not maintained shall constitute a nuisance as defined in Chapter 14 of the Evanston City Code.
E. Nonconforming properties. There are properties in the community that do not meet the requirements of this section. These properties may continue in this condition. The requirements of this section shall not apply when a change in ownership, a change in tenancy, or a change in use occur to the property. These requirements shall not apply when interior or exterior remodeling of the building occurs. These requirements shall only apply when a building addition is constructed that exceeds 50% of the size of the existing building; when site reconstruction occurs to more than 50% of the existing property; and when abutting property is developed for expansion of the use.