Planting and trees

Within waterfront public access areas and parking areas where planting or screening is required, the design standards of this Section shall apply.

A detailed landscape plan prepared by a registered landscape architect shall be submitted to the Department of Parks and Recreation prior to seeking certification by the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission, pursuant to the requirements of Section 62-80. Such plans shall include plants suited for waterfront conditions and include a diversity of species with emphasis on native plants, species that are tolerant of salt, sediment, high seasonal water flow, and high winds, as applicable to the location and the facilitation of sustainable wildlife habitats, where appropriate. No species listed on quarantine or as a host species for any disease listed by the Department of Parks and Recreation at the time of application shall be included.

All landscaped areas shall contain a built-in irrigation system or contain hose bibs within 100 feet of all planting areas.

(a)        Planting areas

Wherever a minimum percentage of planting area is specified for a waterfront public access area, such requirements shall be met only through the provisions of the types of planting areas listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(8) of this Section. A curb with a maximum height of six inches is permitted along the perimeter of any planting area. Any edging higher than six inches above adjacent grade shall be considered a retaining wall. Retaining walls shall not exceed a maximum height of three feet, as measured from the level of the adjoining grade or planted area below such wall so that no more than three feet of such retaining wall is visible from the waterfront public access areas. Where not specifically indicated, the minimum planting standard for required planting areas shall be turf grass, other natural grasses or groundcover. All planting areas shall be located on undisturbed subsoil or clean fill.

(1)        Single tree pits

A single tree pit shall have a minimum dimension of five feet with a minimum area of 30 square feet and a minimum depth of 3 feet, 6 inches. Only tree pits planted with ground cover shall count towards meeting a minimum planting area requirement.

(2)        Continuous tree pits

A continuous tree pit is a planting area containing two or more trees. Continuous tree pits shall have a minimum width of five feet and a minimum depth of 3 feet, 6 inches, and a length as required to meet a minimum of five feet from the trunk of the tree to the end of the tree pit.

(3)        Planting beds

Planting beds for turf grass or groundcovers shall have minimum dimensions of two feet in any direction and a minimum depth of two feet. Planting beds for shrubs shall have minimum dimensions of three feet by three feet for each shrub and a minimum depth of 2 feet, 6 inches. Planting beds containing trees shall have a minimum dimension of five feet and a minimum area of 30 square feet for each tree, with a minimum depth of 3 feet, 6 inches. Trees, shrubs or groundcovers may be combined in a single planting bed only if such bed meets the minimum depth required for the largest plant.

Retaining walls are permitted along the perimeter of a planting bed in accordance with the regulations for planting areas in paragraph (a) of this Section.

(4)        Terraced planting area

A “terraced planting area” is a planting area with two or more planting beds incorporating retaining walls on a slope with a grade change greater than or equal to three feet. A terraced planting area shall comply with the dimensional standards for a planting bed except that the average depth of the individual planting beds between the two retaining walls shall not be less than three feet, as measured perpendicular to the edge of the retaining wall. In addition, for retaining walls between two or more planting beds, their height may exceed three feet, provided that the front of such retaining walls is screened by plant material.

(5)        Berms

A "berm" is a planting area with sloped grade stabilized primarily by plant materials rather than retaining walls or other similar built structures. A berm shall comply with the dimensional standards for a planting bed except that the height of the berm shall not exceed the flood-resistant construction elevation on the zoning lot, or five feet above the lowest adjoining grade of the waterfront yard established pursuant to Section 62-332 (Rear yards and waterfront yards), whichever is higher.

(6)        Lawns

A "lawn" is an area planted with turf grass having a minimum soil depth of 2 feet, 6 inches. Along at least 60 percent of the perimeter, a lawn shall have a grade level within six inches of the adjacent grade providing unobstructed pedestrian access. Any required lawn shall have a minimum area of 500 square feet and no dimension less than 18 feet.  

(7)        Screening

Screening is intended to create a landscaped buffer between the waterfront public access areas and adjoining non-public uses to protect the privacy or minimize the visual impact of blank walls, equipment, loading and parking areas or similar conditions.

(i)        Screening buffers

Screening buffers required pursuant to paragraph (c)(2) of Section 62-62 (Design Requirements for Shore Public Walkways and Supplemental Public Access Areas) shall consist of densely planted shrubs or multi-stemmed screening plants, with at least 50 percent being evergreen species. Shrubs shall have a height of at least four feet at the time of planting. The requirements of this paragraph, (a)(7)(i), may also be satisfied by the requirements of paragraph (a)(7)(ii) of this Section.

(ii)        Blank walls and service areas

Blank walls higher than four feet measured from an adjacent grade level and service areas anywhere within a waterfront public access area shall be screened with any combination of evergreen trees, vines or espaliered trees or shrubs, and an architectural treatment such as a pergola, stone rustication, grills or sculptural features.

(iii)        Parking garage screening

Open parking areas on any zoning lot fronting on an upland connection or street on any waterfront block, notwithstanding the use on such lot, shall require screening pursuant to Section 37-921 (Perimeter landscaping). Screening required pursuant to Section 62-453 shall consist of a planting strip at least four feet wide. Plants shall be at least four feet high at the time of planting and 50 percent of them shall be evergreen shrubs.

All required screening may be interrupted by vehicular or pedestrian entrances.

(8)        Tidal wetland area

A tidal wetland area may satisfy up to 30 percent of the required planting area for waterfront public access areas.

(b)        Trees

(1)        Tree caliper

At time of planting, canopy trees shall be a minimum of three inches caliper and ornamental trees shall be a minimum of two inches caliper.

(2)        Trees in single tree pits

One of the procedures in this paragraph, (b)(2), shall be employed to protect trees planted at grade:

(i)        granite or cast concrete block pavers with a minimum four inch depth shall be installed in accordance with New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) standards for street trees;

(ii)        a grate shall be installed over the root zone, supported at its edges and set flush with the adjacent pavement for pedestrian safety, in accordance with DPR standards for street trees for grate size; or

(iii)        the root zone shall be surrounded with barrier hedge planting.