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There are many factors to consider when installing a landscape.  The following provides a summary of some of the key factors that apply to new and replacement landscaping in Brisbane:

1.  If you will be hiring a landscape professional, check their qualifications first.  The California Contractors State License Board website provides information on licensure requirements as well as the status of a contractor's license.  You may also check the status of licenses from this website.  Note that it is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs in the state of California.

2.  Certain components of a landscape may require a building permit (ie:  retaining walls, decks, outdoor plumbing, electrical, etc.).  Check with the Building Department, at (415) 508-2120, if you have questions regarding your particular situation.

3.  Grading of more than 5 cubic yards requires a grading permit through the Public of Works Department.

4. Consider plant selections carefully before planting them on your site.  Consider the size, form and other characteristics of the plants at maturity and how they will fit into the design intent and context of the site.  Also, consider the plant requirements and whether the site will provide for the proper soil, sun versus shade, water, etc. for the plants to thrive.

5.  If one or more trees are planned to be removed or severely trimmed on your property, check the tree permit requirements and obtain a permit from the Community Development Department, if applicable.

6.  Avoid planting potentially invasive species and remove existing invasive species from your property.  There are various sources of information on invasive plants.  One of these is the California Invasive Plant Council.  Also, refer to the handouts at the bottom of this page for further information.

7.  Use drought tolerant plants and where possible employ xeriscaping, which reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water.  Note that if a proposed new landscape of 500 square feet or a replacement landscape of 1,000 square feet or more of irrigated area (including water features, such as fountains and ponds) is to be constructed, it is subject to the Water Conservation in Landscaping ordinance, Brisbane Municipal Code Chapter 15.70.  For further information on BMC Chapter 15.70, please see the documents below:

8.  Use mulch in planted areas to provide for an attractive and healthy landscape.  The benefits of mulch include enhancing the appearance of the landscape, reducing maintenance by suppressing weeds, improving the water retention of the soil, and for organic mulches by enhancing soil microbial activity and the presence of worms in the soil.

9.  Minimize or avoid the use of fertilizers and pesticides, which can be detrimental to the site as well as enter the stormwater and impact the Bay. 

10.  Minimize waste through composting and recycling on-site where possible.  Note that when re-landscaping, existing materials can often be used in the new ways in the landscape.  Also, when selecting plants, choose plants that fit well in their natural form and do not require significant amounts of pruning, to both minimize the waste stream and maintenance requirements.

11.  If installing new or replacing existing impervious surfaces which would total 2,500 square feet or more, certain state Water Board requirements may apply.  For permit information for those sites that would have 2,500 square feet or more of new or replacement impervious surfaces, please review the requirements. In all instances the use of Best Management Practices need to be employed to protect stormwater and the Bay.

For information on landscaping permitting requirements, please see the handouts provided below.  Note that Planning Director approval of landscape plans is required within Brisbane’s commercial areas, planned development districts and within the San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation (HCP) area, prior to installation.  Except for new development, Planning Director approval is not required for landscaping plans for single family homes within the Central Brisbane residential districts (R-1, R-2 and R-3), however certain other permits may be required as outlined above.  Check with the Community Development Department at (415) 508-2120, if you have questions about your particular project.  For information on Bay-friendly landscaping techniques which minimize negative environmental impacts, see the Bay Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition website.

Landscaping requirements depend on the location within Brisbane and are as follows:

Additional requirements pertaining to landscaping at the Northeast Ridge are as follows:
  • Northeast Ridge landscaping plans are subject to review and approval by the Planning Department prior to installation.
  • Irrigated landscapes of 500 square feet or more are also subject to the water conservation in the landscaping ordinance per Brisbane Municipal Code 15.70.
  • If the proposed landscaping is to include structures, such as an outdoor kitchen, retaining wall, trellis, storm drain tie-ins, etc, a Building Permit will also be required.

As an option, the landscape architecture firm, Vandertoolen Associates (VTA), has already prepared plans for the rear yards, which have been reviewed and approved by the City.  A copy of these plans may be referenced through your homeowners' association or at City Hall, located at 50 Park Place.

For supplemental Landscaping information:

Supplemental Items 1 - 5
Supplemental Items 6 - 20
Supplemental Items 21 - 25
Supplemental Item 26