Landscaping, trees and nature strips

Landscape design needs to be considered and provided as part of every development. An appropriate landscape design means knowing and understanding your site, its microclimate, the key features such as views and the character of the locality. Construction that adversely affects landscape to be retained may be subject to an order.

Landscape plans

You will need development approval of a landscape intentions plan for the surface treatments and the plantings to all exterior spaces for all types of developments, except single dwellings in new estates in standard residential areas, except where all or part of the proposal is exempt from requiring development approval.

The landscape plan must explain:

  • surface treatments, which include "hard stand" areas that are impermeable to water and all other surfaces, including mulches and dryland or irrigated grass
  • plantings, including use of trees, shrubs, climbers and ground covers and
  • water efficiency measures.

If the proposal involves building structures - for example retaining walls - building approval may be required, except where all or part of the proposal is exempt from requiring building approval.

Existing vegetation, trees and nature strips

You will need development approval if your proposal impacts on:

Work to existing trees over a certain size requires development approval. Your development application will need to include a tree survey and report by a qualified arborist that identifies the trees and the impact on them. Regulated trees:

  • are 12m or more high or have a canopy 12m or more wide and/or
  • have a trunk circumference of 1.5m or more, 1m above natural ground level and/or
  • have two or more trunks and the total circumference of all the trunks, 1m above natural ground level, is 1.5m or more.

You should contact the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate if your block has trees on or adjacent to it and you are unsure of their status or the potential impact of your proposal or if you propose to remove or lop a significant tree, as you will need to make an application for tree damaging activity.

Nature strips

Development approval is needed if your proposal impacts on existing nature strips – submit a Verge Management Plan in accordance with Transport Canberra and City Services requirements.

You are responsible for the maintenance of nature strips next to your property. This includes the care of all grass and plantings and pruning to hedges, but not:

  • works to the street tree, such as tree surgery or chemical spraying and
  • repair and maintenance of pathways.

Nature strips should not be used as private parking areas.

Get help and how to begin

You can find a landscape architect by contacting the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. You can find a qualified arborist in the Yellow Pages under 'T' for Trees. For significant tree questions, contact the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate.

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