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Landscaping & Trees

Landscaping

If you're thinking about updating the existing landscaping on your property be advised that Petaluma has special requirements for projects that add or change 500 or more square feet of landscaping on your property or projects that include new fencing, walls or outdoor furniture. Additionally, depending on the extent of changes you may require permits with the City's Building, Planning, Environmental Services, or Engineering divisions.

General requirements for landscaping are listed in the City's municipal code, 15.17.050 Landscape water use efficiency standards. If these requirements apply to your project, you will need to submit a project plan to the City for review and approval. Additional information on water conservation resources and tips can be found here.

Note that landscaping done in conjunction with the Planning Division's Site Plan and Architectural Review (SPAR) process, must comply with specific standards and objectives. These requirements can be found in the SPAR Landscape and Design Standards Handout.

Fencing and Retaining Walls

Changes to fencing, walls and/or retaining walls may also trigger review. The Planning Division reviews and approves all fences and walls for compliance with zoning setbacks and height requirements. Please review the Planning Division's information handout on the Placement of Fences and Walls for more guidance.

Retaining walls that are more than 4 feet tall from bottom of footing to the top of wall, are supporting a structure, or are located on a property line will require a permit or engineering with the Building Division. Should you believe your wall may be exempt from those requirements, please confirm with the Building Division prior to construction as additional triggers may apply.

Sidewalks

When considering landscape changes, be advised that private property owners are required to maintain the sidewalk and street landscape planters directly in front of their property. The Duty of Property Owner to Maintain Sidewalks and Public Street Landscape Planters handout.

Tree Maintenance and Removal

The City has various Policies and Ordinances regarding tree preservation, maintenance, and/or removal, depending upon the type, location, and condition of the tree.

The City requires an Encroachment Permit to trim and/or remove trees in the public right-of-way (usually trees in the planter strip between the curb and sidewalk). Additionally, tree removal permits may be required by the Planning Division if the tree is protected per Chapter 17 of the Implementing Zoning Ordinance. Protected trees include trees of specific native species, designated heritage trees, and trees that are protected as a condition in a development approval. Protected trees subject to Planning Division review may be located on private property.

Refer to "Trees in Petaluma" for additional information on trees and best practices for tree maintenance. http://cityofpetaluma.net/parksnrec/pdf/temp/OverviewPetTrees.pdf

Street Trees

Some trees are protected and require staff overview before you trim or remove them.

Heritage Trees

The City has a Heritage Tree Ordinance, and invites property owners to nominate their tree(s) to the register, so that they can be protected from removal.

Heritage/Landmark Tree Designation Permit

Open letter to tree owners from the Tree Advisory Committee.

If you would like to nominate a tree for the City Tree Registry, please click here.

View the Register of Heritage and Landmark Trees.

Landscaping Handouts

photo of trees overlooking river


Be sure to understand requirements and fees before starting a landscaping project. The best place to start is the Building and Planning Counter at 11 English Street.

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