Soft landscaping Print

Design Outcome

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Design Checklist

  1. Trees and planting supports native biodiversity and aligns with a water sensitive design approach.
  2. Trees and planting provides visual relief and screens vehicles to create a more appealing environme​nt


Trees and planting are often referred to as ‘soft landscaping’, which simply refers to the planting and vegetation component of landscape-designed areas.​​​

Trees, shrubs and grasses visually soften spaces, manage stormwater and can increase the value of a project.​


Better Design Practice

Use landscaping between ro​ws of cars and between parking bays. Include canopy and shade planting
  • Integrate trees in landscaping to help soften and green the potentially harsh, concrete dominated, environment of surface car parking.
  • Appropriate tree species should be specified and maintenance considered. Trees should be ‘clear-stemmed’ (lower branches pruned away) so that branches do not interfere with vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Low planting, less than 800 mm in height, should be provided wherever possible.

Utilise rain gardens​
​​​A Water Sensitive Design approach should be considered when designing surface parking. Vehicles drip toxins and heavy metals from engines and brakes - water sensitive design solutions seek to direct runoff from parking areas to planted filtration beds or rain gardens that absorb and filter out pollutants before water is directed to stormwater outlets.​

Maximise available space
  • Space may be at a premium when configuring parking, especially in dense residential schemes, but layouts will often yield leftover space that can be utilised for greenery. “Nose-in” parking spaces, borders and areas left outside of tracking curves are all opportunities for soft landscaping and will make a significant impact on the appearance of a parking area.
  • Care needs to be taken where trees are provided to ensure they are given adequate protection from moving vehicles through the use of kerbs or bollards.

Te Aranga Māori Design Principles​​

When designing landscaping, it is important to consider how Mana Whenua cultural landscapes can be protected, restored and enhanced. Acknowledging the cultural landscape is an important part of cultural recognition.

Refer to our Māori Design Hub for more information on how to integrate the
Te Aranga Māori Design Principles into your project.

Rules of Thumb

As a general rule, low planting should not exceed 800mm in height to avoid potential issues such as concealment (providing hiding spaces).​

Clear stemming (or crown lifting - the trimming of low level branches) to a height of 1.8m - 2m provides a clear walking space below branches.​

Remember, trees grow! While they may be too small to create an issue when planted, a comprehensive landscape management plan should be prepared to ensure car park landscaping is future proofed once trees mature.​

Give consideration to the specification/selection of tree species - trees that will continue to grow to a significant or dominant size may not be appropriate. Consider more diminutive tree species such as Titoki.​
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