Chapter 17.57


17.57.010    Purpose and intent.

17.57.020    Applicability.

17.57.030    General requirements.

17.57.040    Specific requirements.

17.57.050    Landscape buffers – Types and descriptions.

17.57.060    Submittal requirements.

17.57.070    Approval of landscape plan and installation of landscaping.

17.57.080    Preservation and care of significant trees.

17.57.090    Maintenance requirements.

17.57.100    Prohibited plants.

17.57.110    Alteration of landscape requirements.

17.57.120    Deviations.

17.57.010 Purpose and intent.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish landscaping provisions to achieve the following:

A. Provide a smooth transition between adjacent properties and buffer different intensities of land uses.

B. Maintain and enhance the character and appearance of the city.

C. Soften the visual impact of paved surfaces and blank building walls.

D. Reduce the effects of light, noise, glare, exhaust fumes, heat, wind, erosion, and other adverse effects.

E. Provide shade. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.020 Applicability.

A. Other than the exceptions listed in subsection (B) of this section, the requirements of this chapter shall apply to all of the following:

1. New development.

2. Any change in the use of a property requiring a land use permit.

3. Any change in the use of a property requiring a change of occupancy permit.

4. Any addition, remodel, alteration, or repair of a structure that increases the gross floor area by more than 35 percent or where the cost of the addition, remodel, alteration, or repair exceeds 50 percent of the existing assessed value of the structure.

B. Exceptions.

1. This chapter does not apply to any use or development in the C-1 zone, other than parking lots.

2. An individual one- or two-family dwelling unit on an individual lot that is not part of a subdivision or planned development district application is only required to comply with the following sections of this chapter:

a. SLMC 17.57.040(C)(1), residential front yard setbacks.

b. SLMC 17.57.080, Preservation and care of significant trees.

c. SLMC 17.57.090, Maintenance requirements.

d. SLMC 17.57.100, Prohibited plants. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.030 General requirements.

All required landscaped areas shall comply with the following:

A. Landscaping shall be primarily vegetative and consist of combinations of trees, shrubs, and ground cover. Nonliving natural features may also be incorporated.

B. Required landscape plantings shall be suited to the climate, location, and physical conditions of the site. The use of drought-tolerant species is encouraged.

C. All landscaped areas shall be graded to prevent erosion and to facilitate the installation, growth, and maintenance of the landscaping. All turf areas located in public rights-of-way shall have a grade of no greater than 4(h):1(v).

D. Trees and shrubs shall be chosen and located to avoid interference with underground and overhead utility lines or public improvements.

E. Landscaping shall be designed to ensure adequate visibility and safety of vehicular traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other users, on and off the proposed site. Height and/or spacing of landscaping may be modified to accommodate sight distances.

F. Other than a fence around an individual one-or two-family dwelling, all fences shall be placed on the inward side of any required perimeter landscaping.

G. To protect against the possibility of all trees in one project being destroyed by disease or pests, a mix of tree species shall be provided in accordance with the following table:

Required Number of Trees

Minimum Number of Species

Maximum Percent of Any One Species

11 20



21 30



31 40






H. Minimum Plant Sizes at Installation.

Type of Plant

Minimum Size at Installation

Street trees and other deciduous trees

Two inch caliper

Multi-stemmed trees, e.g., vine maple

Six feet tall

Evergreen trees

Six feet tall

Small shrubs

Twelve inches tall

Medium and tall shrubs

Eighteen inches tall

I. Drought tolerant living ground cover is preferred; however, materials such as river rock, decorative gravel, and other nonliving landscape features may be used.

J. If approved by the city, required street frontage landscaping may be placed in city right-of-way. This area shall be maintained by the owner of the property that abuts the right-of-way. The city and other public services shall have the right to remove landscaping placed on city right-of-way for repair, replacement, or installation of utility services. The city will not accept liability for damages to said landscaping from future street expansion, meter reading, or utility installation, inspection, or repair.

K. All required landscaping shall be served by irrigation systems appropriate for the plants.

L. The incorporation of existing vegetation, especially healthy trees, is strongly encouraged. Where existing trees and associated vegetation serve the same or similar function as the required landscaping, they may substitute for the required landscaping, provided trees are healthy and appropriate for the site at mature size. When necessary, existing vegetation shall be supplemented with new plantings to accomplish the specific intent and purpose of this chapter.

M. Landscape requirements contained in this chapter are minimums. Additional landscaping is encouraged.

N. Areas within 200 feet of the shoreline or associated wetlands are subject to the state of Washington Shoreline Management Act and the city of Soap Lake shoreline master program.

O. In the event of a conflict between the content of this chapter and other regulations, the more restrictive regulations shall apply. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.040 Specific requirements.

A. Buffers. When adjacent to the uses listed, the subject property shall provide the type and width of landscaping listed in the table below along the entire property line between the subject property and the adjacent use, except for vehicular and pedestrian access points. If a building is located in the buffer area, the landscaping displaced by the building shall be located elsewhere on the site. Types of landscaping are as described in SLMC 17.57.050.




One- and Two-Family Subdivision


Manufactured Home Park



Freeway or highway

Type I

20 feet wide

Type I

20 feet wide

Type I

20 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Street frontage

Type III

5 feet wide

Type III

5 feet wide

Type III

5 feet wide

Type III

10 feet wide

Type II

20 feet wide

One- and Two-Family or vacant land zoned R-1 or R-2


Type II

5 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type I

15 feet wide

Multifamily or vacant land zoned R-3

Type II

10 feet wide

Type III

5 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type I

15 feet wide

Manufactured Home Park

Type II

10 feet wide

Type III

5 feet wide


Type II

10 feet wide

Type I

15 feet wide

Commercial/Institutional or vacant land zoned C-1 or C-2

Type II

10 feet wide

Type II

5 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide


Type II

10 feet wide

Industrial or vacant land zoned I-L

Type II

10 feet wide

Type I

5 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide

Type II

10 feet wide


B. Commercial Parking Areas. Parking areas shall be landscaped to provide shade and visual relief while maintaining clear lines of sight.

1. Landscaping shall be provided within and/or around all surface parking lots containing 10 or more parking stalls. Landscaping shall be provided at a rate of 20 square feet per parking stall. Other required landscaping may not be counted toward this total. At a minimum, landscaping shall consist of ground cover and shade trees with a minimum mature canopy spread of 15 feet.

2. The minimum area per planter shall be 100 square feet.

3. Landscaped areas shall be distributed around and/or throughout the parking lot so that the maximum distance between the trunk of shade tree and any parking stall shall be no more than 50 feet.

4. Permanent curbs or structural barriers shall be provided to protect the landscape plantings from vehicle overhang.

5. Trees shall be planted at least four feet from the outside edge of the planting area.

6. No plant material greater than 12 inches in height shall be located within two feet of the edge of a landscaped area adjacent to a parking stall.

C. Residential Landscaping.

1. Front Yard Setback. The required front yard setback of all new residential uses shall be landscaped within one year of occupancy and maintained. For the purposes of this section, landscaping shall be defined as the addition of lawn, trees, plants, shrubs, and other decorative features. No parking shall be allowed on or in the landscaped areas.

2. Multifamily Structures. Multifamily residential uses shall also landscape the required open space areas so that they are usable for outdoor recreation.

3. Manufactured Home Parks. All areas within the boundaries of the manufactured home park shall be landscaped. All lawns, trees, landscaping, occupied and unoccupied manufactured home spaces, recreation areas, and open space areas shall be continually maintained. A permanent irrigation system shall be installed and maintained for planted common areas.

D. Building Facade Landscaping. Blank building facades more than 20 feet in height or 50 feet in width or length shall be landscaped with Type III landscaping to provide visual relief and soften the effect of the new building on the surrounding area. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.050 Landscape buffers – Types and descriptions.

When the following types of buffers are required by this chapter, the minimum standards shall be as described below. As an alternative, in all cases except for street frontage landscaping, the shrubs may be eliminated if a six-foot sight-obscuring fence or wall is installed.

A. Type I Landscaping. Type I landscaping is a “full screen” that functions as a visual barrier. This landscaping is typically found adjacent to freeways and between residential and nonresidential areas. Type I landscaping shall consist of:

1. Primarily evergreen or densely branching deciduous trees and shrubs placed to form a continuous all-season screen at least six feet tall within three years of planting. Trees and shrubs may be offset or staggered, rather than in a single line. Other deciduous trees and shrubs may be incorporated for seasonal interest, provided the screening function of the landscaping is not compromised. Trees and shrubs shall be spaced so that they will touch or overlap at mature size.

2. Ground cover.

B. Type II Landscaping. Type II landscaping is a “filtered screen” that functions as a visual separator between similar uses. This landscaping is typically found between commercial and industrial uses; between differing types of residential development; and to screen industrial uses from the street. Type II landscaping shall consist of:

1. A mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs may be offset or staggered, rather than in a single line.

2. At least one tree and four shrubs shall be provided for each 20 lineal feet of property line being screened.

3. Required shrubs must achieve a height of four feet within three years.

4. Ground cover.

C. Type III Landscaping. Type III landscaping is a “see-through buffer” to provide visual relief between compatible uses and to soften the appearance of streets, parking areas, and building facades. This landscaping is typically found along street frontages or between apartment developments. Type III landscaping shall consist of:

1. One- and two-family residential subdivisions.

a. A mix of trees, with one tree for each 40 lineal feet of frontage. Trees may be spaced irregularly or clustered rather than uniformly spaced.

b. Ground cover.

2. All other uses.

a. A mix of trees, with one tree for each 25 lineal feet of street frontage or facade length or width. Trees may be spaced irregularly or clustered rather than uniformly spaced.

b. A mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs that do not exceed a height of four feet at maturity, spaced not more than four feet apart.

c. Ground cover. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.060 Submittal requirements.

A landscape plan shall be prepared by a person experienced in the selection and installation of plants. For multifamily projects with five or more units and nonresidential projects with more than 20,000 square feet of gross floor area, the landscape plan shall be prepared by one of the following: licensed landscape architect, Washington State certified nurseryman, or Washington State certified landscaper. A landscape plan shall accompany all development applications and shall contain the following information at a minimum:

A. Name and address or location of project.

B. Date of the plan.

C. North arrow and scale (one inch equals 50 feet or larger).

D. All property lines, rights-of-way, streets, walks, vehicular drives, parking lots, curbing, existing and proposed structures, building entrances, overhead and underground utilities, freestanding lights, service or loading areas, signs, open spaces, plazas, and recreation amenities, with materials noted.

E. Proposed location of all trees, shrubs, ground cover, and any proposed or existing physical elements, such as fencing, walls, curbing, or benches, that may affect the overall landscape.

F. A plant schedule which indicates the scientific and common names, quantities, spacing, and sizes at planting and maturity for all plants in the landscape plan.

G. Location, sizes and species of existing significant trees as defined in SLMC 17.57.080. Areas with existing vegetation that will be retained should be marked and described.

H. A legend which shows symbols and types of plant.

I. Location and details of irrigation system. The source of water and type of irrigation system shall be noted.

J. Location and dimensions of any designated sensitive areas and required sensitive area buffers, as defined in Chapter 14.12 SLMC.

K. Plant materials shown on the landscaping plan at three-quarters mature size in appropriate relation to the chosen scale of the plan, except that mature size shall be used for plants that will reach mature size within five years of planting.

L. A calculation of the square footage of landscaping proposed, with separate totals for living and nonliving landscape.

M. Such other submissions consistent with this chapter as may be required by the planner. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.070 Approval of landscape plan and installation of landscaping.

A. After receipt of a complete landscape plan, all development applications shall be reviewed by the planner for compliance with this chapter concurrently with and as a part of the review process of the principal use or structure and prior to issuance of any grading, building, or land use permit or approval.

B. No certificate of occupancy, or final inspection approval if no certificate of occupancy is required, shall be issued until one of the following occur:

1. The required landscaping is installed.

2. A bond or some other form of cash surety acceptable to the city is submitted at a value of 120 percent of the estimated cost to complete the landscaping according to the approved landscape plan. Upon completion of the landscape installation, the city shall promptly release the surety. If the required landscaping improvements are not made within six months of occupancy of the building, the city may use the surety to install the landscaping. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.080 Preservation and care of significant trees.

Developments shall retain significant trees to the maximum extent practical. Areas devoted to access and areas to be cleared for required roads, utilities, sidewalks, trails, or storm drainage improvements are exempt from this requirement.

A. Significant trees are healthy trees that do not present a safety hazard, are not listed in SLMC 17.57.100 as prohibited, and that meet one or more of the following criteria:

1. Six inches or greater in diameter measured four feet above grade.

2. Part of a grouping of five or more trees with canopies that touch or overlap.

3. Member of a unique or unusual species.

4. Within 25 feet of a sensitive area or buffer, as defined in Chapter 14.12 SLMC.

B. The following measures shall be used to protect significant trees during construction:

1. There shall be no clearing or grading of the site until after approval of the landscape plan.

2. The developer shall install a temporary but immovable fence four feet high around the tree at the dripline to prevent disturbance during construction.

3. There shall be no impervious surfaces, fill, excavation, or storage of materials within the fenced area.

4. If the grade level around the tree is to be raised by more than one foot, a rock well shall be constructed around the tree, with the inside diameter of the well corresponding to the dripline of the tree. No fill is allowed inside the well area.

5. The grade level shall not be lowered within the larger of the two areas defined as follows:

a. The drip line of the tree; or

b. An area around the tree equal to one foot in diameter for each inch of tree trunk diameter measured four feet above the ground.

C. Alternative protection measures may be used if the city determines they will provide equal or greater tree protection. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.090 Maintenance requirements.

A. Plant Maintenance. The property owner shall maintain all landscape plant material for the life of the project. All unhealthy or dead plant materials shall be replaced within the next planting season, not to exceed 180 days from the date of loss. Trees and shrubs shall only be pruned and trimmed as necessary to maintain a healthy growing condition or to prevent a safety hazard. Planted areas shall be maintained free of trash and weeds.

B. Irrigation. All portions of any irrigation system shall be maintained in order to perform its original function. Uncontrolled emission of water from any pipe, valve, head, emitter or other irrigation device shall be considered evidence of lack of maintenance and a violation of this title.

C. Hardscape. Maintenance of all landscape areas shall also include the painting, repairing, reconstruction, and restoration of landscape structures such as fences, walls, trellises, etc. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.100 Prohibited plants.

A. The following trees are prohibited within public right-of-way, including planter strips: poplar, willow, cottonwood, fruit trees other than ornamental, nut trees, Siberian or Chinese elm, or any other tree species that may be declared a nuisance by the city for reasons of disease, exotic characteristics, or impairing or destroying property necessary to the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of the city.

B. The following trees are prohibited within 100 feet of a public sewer: poplar, willow, elm, cottonwood, or any other tree species with invasive roots.

C. Any plant listed by the Grant County weed district as a noxious weed is prohibited. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.110 Alteration of landscape requirements.

The applicant may submit for consideration a landscaping plan that differs from the specific criteria set forth in this chapter. The applicant shall clearly and in detail state what adjustments of requirements are being requested and the reasons that such adjustments are warranted. The application shall be accompanied by supplemental data, such as sketches, surveys, and statistical information, as is deemed necessary to support the adjustment. The planning agency may approve, modify, or deny the requested adjustment. In approving the alteration, the planning agency shall make the following findings:

A. The alteration would be in keeping with and preserve the intent of this chapter; and

B. The alteration would not be contrary to the public interest; and

C. The alteration is justified based on at least one of the following:

1. The requirements of this chapter would result in more than 15 percent of the site area being landscaped. In such cases the planning agency may modify those requirements so that not more than 15 percent of the site must be landscaped; provided, that the landscaping and corresponding setbacks required are those most beneficial to the public. More intensive landscaping may be required if the reduction in area would reduce the effectiveness of landscaping to a point where the intent of the landscaping type cannot be satisfied.

2. The inclusion of significant existing vegetation located on the site would result in as good as or better satisfaction of the purposes of this chapter.

3. Three-foot berms or six-foot architectural barriers are incorporated into the landscape design. Adjacent to the berm or barrier, the width of the perimeter landscaping strip may be reduced up to 25 percent if the landscaping materials are incorporated elsewhere on site.

4. Existing conditions on or adjacent to the site, such as significant topographic differences, vegetation, structures, or utilities would render application of this chapter ineffective.

5. An existing or proposed structure precludes installation of the total amount of required perimeter landscaping. In such cases, the landscaping material shall be incorporated on another portion of the site.

6. The proposed landscaping represents a superior result or is more effective than that which would be achieved by strictly following requirements of this section. (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).

17.57.120 Deviations.

A deviation from the regulations of this chapter may be obtained through the hearing examiner in compliance with the provisions of Chapter 2.72 SLMC entitled “Hearing Examiner.” (Ord. 1105 § 1, 2009).