Landscape Requirements

CURRENT (2022) REQUIREMENTS

Residential*

  • Three (3) one-gallon shrubs
  • Three (3) five-gallon shrubs
  • Two (2) trees measuring at least two (2) caliper inches or one (1) tree measuring three and a half (3.5”) caliper inches
  • Turfgrass shall be limited to one half (1/2) of the lot after subtracting the impervious cover for single-family and two-family lots.  Turfgrass is prohibited in strips of land less than six (6’) feet wide in parking areas or between sidewalks and pavement.
  • Soil depth is required to be 6” of soil depth and consist of 75% soil blended with 25% compost for turf areas.
  • Non-disturbance zones – no more than 5 feet from the building footprint and flat work may be disturbed during house construction for residential lots.  SFR has an increased disturbance zone of 10 feet from the building footprint and flat work.

Non-Residential*

  1. A minimum percentage of the total lot area of property on which development occurs shall be devoted to landscape development in accordance with the following:
     
    • Multifamily Dwellings, 20%
    • Office and Professional Uses, 15%
    • Commercial Uses, 15%
    • Industrial or manufacturing, 10%
    • Schools, churches, community centers and parks, 15%
  2. For every six hundred (600) square feet of landscape area and setback area required by the Composite Zoning Ordinance, two (2) shade trees (two (2) inch caliper or larger) and four (4) shrubs (five (5) gallon container size or larger) shall be planted.
  3. Turfgrass shall be limited to fifty (50%) percent of any landscape area and prohibited in strips of land less than six (6’) feet wide in parking areas or between sidewalks and pavement.
  4. Soil depth is required to be 6” of soil depth and consist of 75% soil blended with 25% compost for turf areas.
  5. Side setbacks between commercial lots are not required to be landscaped.

*Alternative standards may apply to projects that are zoned as part of a PUD.

Common Questions
 

What to do during a drought or Phase 4 Conservation?

All residents and businesses should limit their watering dependent on the current conservation phase issued by the City of Leander. View the City's water conservation page for updates on current phases and actions. 

What if you are building a new house that requires landscaping during Phase 4 Conservation?

Homebuilders delay installation of landscaping by coordinating with their zoning inspector for a temporary Certificate of Occupancy. An affidavit signed by the property owner is required to confirm understanding of the requirements.

What if you are a developer for a subdivision or new commercial construction during Phase 4 Conservation?

Developers shall delay installation of landscaping through the conditional certificate of completion process.  Please coordinate with the Planning Department.

Can residential property owners remove a tree?

Yes, residential property owners can remove a tree.  Permits are not required if the house is already completed and occupied.  If a tree is removed from the front yard, the home owner may need to replace it in order to meet the landscape requirements.  The ordinance requires 2 – 2 caliper inch trees or 1 – 3 caliper inch tree.

What is Xeriscape?

Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. This means xeriscaped landscapes need little or no water beyond what the natural climate provides. The term “xeriscape” is registered trademark of the National Xeriscape Council and means water-conserving, drought-tolerant landscaping.  Examples of xeriscaping materials: drought tolerant plants from the Grow Green Guide or Preferred Plant List, ornamental stone, river rock, pea gravel

What landscaping materials can I use?

All landscape materials shall be installed and maintained according to generally accepted landscape practices for the region. Low water demanding landscapes, are encouraged and should include plants from the preferred plant list and included in the Grow Green Guide or Preferred Plant List.

Is artificial turf allowed?

Synthetic or artificial lawns or plants shall not be used in lieu of plant requirements.  There are concerns with the installation of artificial turf with regards to impervious cover for the project.  Artificial turf may be considered with non-residential projects as part of a site development permit.  The turf will need to be evaluated to confirm drainage requirements.  

Can my Home Owners Association (HOA) or Property Owners Association (POA) enforce regulations to require additional landscape standards?

An HOA or POA cannot prohibit or restrict the following:

  • Implementing measures promoting solid waste composting of vegetation, including grass clippings, leaves or brush, or leaving grass clippings uncollected on grass; 
  • Installing rain barrels or a rainwater harvesting system; or 
  • Implementing efficient irrigation systems, including underground drip or other drip irrigation systems. 

 An HOA or POA may not include or enforce a provision that requires: 

  • A defined irrigation schedule specified by the association unless a defined irrigation schedule is mandated by the association’s water supplier in order to curtail outdoor water use; 
  • Maintenance of the landscape to a specified level that requires the property owner to irrigate his or her landscape; 
  • Installation or maintenance of any specific variety or limited choice of varieties of turf grass; or 
  • The homeowner to install a minimum percentage of turf in the landscape. 

 Why does the city keep approving new developments when there are water concerns?

The City of Leander has experienced substantial growth over the past twenty years.  The city has been asked why we keep allowing the development of additional apartments and residential uses.  Cities are limited in what they how they can restrict growth due to state legislation.  The State of Texas has strong property rights regulations that limit the city’s ability to restrict developments that already have entitlements.  If a developer presents a project that complies with the zoning and subdivision ordinances, then they have the right to develop their property.  This means that we will continue to see new apartments and residential developments for properties that were zoned in the past.  There are several properties in the city that currently have multi-family or high-density residential zoning in place, that have not developed.  The City Council has adopted a resolution to communicate the priorities of the city for new zoning requests.  This resolution supports low density residential projects (greater than 80 foot wide lots) and discourages new high density residential projects. 

What steps have been taken to manage water usage?

The city is taking steps to add additional regulations to help manage water usage through zoning requirements including landscaping as well as other conservation efforts.  They city has found that a large amount of water used for irrigation.  We have taken steps to reduce the amount of turf grass allowed for developments.

 What changes have been made to turf grass requirements? 

Below, is a brief summary of the turf grass requirements for the city.

  • Before 2005:  No limitation on turf grass
  • 2005 – 2014:  Non-residential limited to 50% turf grass
  • 2014 – 2022:  Non-residential limited to 50% turf grass; Residential limited to 2/3 of the lot
  • 2022 – Present:  Non-residential limited to 50% turf grass; Residential limited to 1/2 of the lot; Turf grass not permitted in areas less than 6-ft wide

As a developer, which landscape rules should I follow?

State law provides certain rights to developers based on the date of their first application for development.  In residential subdivisions, this application is the concept plan.  If a concept plan was submitted prior to the ordinance amendment, then the new ordinance amendments regarding turf grass does not apply.  In the past five years, we have started to see completed developments that are required to limit turf grass based on the 2014 code amendments.

TIMEFRAME

SUBDIVISIONS

1978 - 2014

90

2014 - 2022

26

2022

4