Lessons from a Landscape Architect: Landscape Screening

TASA ID: 334

Most landscape designers have encountered municipal codes which require dense shrub and tree placement along the boundary lines of a commercial project.  Although this mandate is well-intended, as in reducing the negative visual impact of vast areas of asphalt parking lots and roads, it fails to recognize that highways and parking lots are not always incompatible land uses.

Placing plants to hide or screen as opposed to spatial framing of architecture or enhancement of architectural statements can produce line-of-sight issues, creating unsafe designs.  Quite often, various plant materials grow into designed spaces without pruning or management resulting in the inability of pedestrians and drivers to anticipate conflicts within and around the site.  Accidents of many types and proportions can result.

Visibility impaired by inappropriate placement of signage, multiple signs without coordinated graphic studies and overgrown plants can increase the probability of unfortunate events.  Sites I have investigated where incidents have occurred have included, poor plant choices, unexpected plant growth and poorly thought out post construction modification.

If involved in a case where site conditions are contributive to said incident, it would behoove you as an investigator to research the municipality’s required plant list, sign control documents and site design checklists. Turning points, visual access to cues and intersection layout should be on the top of a site analysis examination performance test.

Designers should feel empowered under the “protection of the health safety and welfare” clause of professional licensing laws to challenge inappropriate or unsafe locations of site elements.

Lesson Learned?

Always be aware of designed and un-designed conflicts when beginning the analysis of existing conditions!

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA.
Previous Article Lessons from a Landscape Architect: To Substitute or not to Substitute
Next Article Overcrowded Prisons and Officer Safety
Tasa ID334

Theme picker


  • Let Us Find Your Expert

  • Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.

Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts