Guideline No. 28 – Landscaping

An Exterior Alteration Application for landscaping is required for, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Planting of trees as a barrier.
  2. Hedges more than 2 feet in height.
  3. Flower beds (other than foundation plantings); planting “islands” or clusters.
  4. Landscaping that involves a change of slope and/or installation of a retaining wall or other structure.
  5. Changes in drainage.
  6. Removal of any tree whose trunk is over 20 inches in circumference (approximately 7 inches in diameter) when measured at a point 2 feet above the ground, whether the tree is alive or presumed dead.
  7. Plantings with four or more plants in a row used as a hedge or windbreak or for screening purposes See GUIDELINE No.17- FENCING and GUIDELINE No. 47- SCREENING.
  8. Major changes to existing approved landscaping and edging materials not used as a part of foundation plantings. See GUIDELINE No. 29 – LAWN ORNAMENTATION.

Application Requirements

The application must include:

  • A site (plot) plan showing the location of alteration.

Note: Applications without a diagramed plot plan will not be accepted.

  • A complete description of plant material.
  • A master landscaping plan.
  • The size of plants at maturity.
  • The size and shape of flower/shrubbery beds.
  • Identification of the type of ground cover.
  • Identification of any existing landscaping.

Approval

Your application will most likely be approved if the following criteria are met:

  1. The plan provides visual breaks.
  2. A variety of plant materials are used.
  3. The atmosphere of a larger natural open area is preserved.
  4. Plant materials are clustered or staggered.
  5. The scale and location of landscaping is considered.
  6. The scale and location of landscaping is considered.
  7. Opaque plantings of trees or shrubbery are not used along property lines as delineation or otherwise planted in a row.

No Approval Required

An Exterior Alteration Application is not required for planting the following:

  1. Individual shrubs (unless used as a hedge).
  2. Plants around the foundation.
  3. Low growing annual or perennial plantings.
  4. Ground covers.
  5. Any single specimen tree that, at maturity, will be in scale with the size of the house.
  6. Stepping stones flush with the ground and of a color that blends with the surroundings.

NOTE: A homeowner’s desire for privacy combined with small lot sizes presents a challenge to the open concept of Columbia. Residents are encouraged to arrange a variety of plantings in groupings which are strategically placed to provide privacy, yet leave visual breaks and diversity which preserves the atmosphere of a larger natural open area. Visual screening can often be created very effectively by staggered clusters of plantings. Residents may wish to consider plantings which screen the immediate area around the house, deck, or patio furniture, rather than the entire backyard. The growth characteristics and root structure of all proposed plantings and trees need to be considered. The use of a variety of species, such as hollies, arborvitae, privet, euonymus, and forsythia should be considered. Homeowners should take into consideration the scale and location of the landscaping in relation to not only their lot, but also the adjacent lots as well. The delineation of property lines with opaque plantings of trees and shrubbery should be avoided.

Guideline No. 29 – Lawn Ornamentation

An Exterior Alteration Application must be submitted for lawn ornamentation.

Application Requirements

The application must include:

  • A site (plot) plan showing style.

Note: Applications without a diagramed plot plan will not be accepted.

  • Dimensions of lawn ornamentation.
  • Identification of the material and color.
  • Location of ornamentation.
  • A manufacturer’s drawing and/or photograph, if available.

Approval

Your application will most likely be approved if the following criteria are met:

  1. The site (plot) plan shows the location, size, and description of lawn ornamentation.
  2. The plan includes a plan for screening if applicable. See GUIDELINE No. 47-SCREENING.

NOTE: An Exterior Alteration Application generally will be required for lawn ornamentation, which includes, but is not limited to, sculpture, statuary, fountains, birdbaths, and trellises and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Guideline No. 45 – Retaining Walls

An Exterior Alteration Application is required for all retaining walls. Retaining walls and rock walls require thought and planning just like any other building project.  Soil properties, wall height, wall type or function, drainage surcharge loads, adjacent grading, etc. must be taken into consideration.

Application Requirements

Applications must include:

  • Plot/plat plan with location of retaining walls.

Note: Applications without a diagramed plot/plat plan will not be accepted.

  • Wall dimensions i.e. height, width, depth.
  • List of materials and color, (brochure or sample if applicable).
  • Grading diagram.
  • Drainage diagram.
  • Complete cross-sectional drawing of wall to scale.
  • Elevation view from the low grade side of wall drawn to scale.

Approval

Your application will most likely be approved if it meets the following criteria:

  1. Exposed height of the retaining wall does not exceed 36”.
  2. Materials compliment the character of the house.
  3. Long expanses of walls are broken up with insets or change of materials.
  4. Retaining walls do not block or affect an existing swale or drainage path in a manner to cause damming and small shallow pools/ puddles.
  5. Site plans show water run-off (use arrows to indicate flow of water).
  6. The location of the retaining wall cannot obstruct any swales or natural water run-off.
  7. No part of a retaining wall 36’’ or higher extends across the building restriction line (BRL), (typically 7.5 or more feet from the property line).

NOTE: Homeowner will be responsible for all safety concerns including any need for a railing on the retaining wall. Homeowner will coordinate with Howard County for all necessary building permits requirements.

Guideline No. 47 – Screening

An Exterior Alteration Application must be submitted for screening of any kind.

Application Requirements

Application must include:

  • A site (plot) plan including a scale drawing of the object to be screened.

Note: Applications without a diagramed plot/plat plan will not be accepted.

  • The location, variety, width, height and description of landscape screening.
  • A detailed landscape plan for screening.
  • The size of all trees/shrubs at planting and the projected size at maturity.
  • Any existing landscaping and/or fences.
  • A description of the material of the fences as well as the height, style, materials, and color if a fence or partitions will be used as screening. See GUIDELINE No. 17- FENCING.

Approval

Your application will most likely be approved if it meets the following criteria:

  1. That particular attention is paid to the RHAC recommendations for deciduous or coniferous type plantings, whichever is more appropriate.
  2. Trees are not planted in a row in the form of a hedge or barrier.
  3. A variety of plant materials are used.
  4. Plant materials are clustered or staggered.
  5. The scale of screenings is considered.
  6. Opaque plantings of trees or shrubbery are not used along property lines as delineation or otherwise planted in a row.

NOTE: Landscape or fence screening may be required as part of, but not limited to, the following exterior alterations: antennas and satellite dishes, basketball units, clotheslines, compost piles, dog houses, driveways, vegetable gardens, heating and air conditioning units, hot tubs and whirlpools, lawn ornamentation, patios and walkways, play equipment, pools, sheds and storage units.