Since 1991, the City of Chicago has required developers to include landscaping in their building plans to beautify property and screen the perimeters of parking lots, loading docks and other vehicular use areas.
Parkway plantings are required in the construction of any principal building, any addition or enlargement to an existing building if the new construction exceeds 1,500 square feet, any repair or rehabilitation work of an existing principal building– including interior remodeling–if the expense of this work exceeds 50% of the structure’s replacement cost, construction of any parking area containing five or more spaces, and repair or expansion of existing parking areas if the number of spaces are being increased by more than 25%.
Exempt from the Landscape Ordinance are residences of three living units or less; repairs necessitated from fire damage or any other calamity; and accessory structures such as garages and fences. Screening landscaping is not required for parking lots, loading docks or other vehicular use areas smaller than 1,200 square feet; interior landscaping is not required for these vehicular use areas if smaller than 3,000 square feet.
Planting standards are maintained by the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s Bureau of Forestry. All required landscape designs are reviewed by the Chicago Department of Zoning to ensure compliance with the Landscape Ordinance.
The Landscape Ordinance has the following goals: a greener, more attractive city; reduced heat, noise and air pollution; and increased property values. For additional information, contact the Bureau of Forestry at 312.746.5254.