Every time you create a roadside landscape design, you need to do a quick check of a few things before starting. It’s surprising how nicely this pulls together your concept and moves you toward a great design! By checking these items initially, you can map out the basic configuration of use zones, which develops the structural framework from which your design can be based. Sometimes, after doing this, a shape calls out to you. Block out zones for setbacks, vertical clearance, overly steep slopes, clear sight lines, sign visibility, guard rails, and utility easements to keep your landscape design free of safety conflicts. Consider the following items your first priority.
• Setbacks and the Clear Zone
Keep any tree you propose on public rights of way well beyond the required safety clear zone to avoid creating a fixed object that might be hit by an errant driver that runs off the road. This gives the driver an opportunity to recover and get back on the road without injury or damage to the vehicle.
• Tree Canopy Clearance
Leave an adequate vertical space open along the road travel way to avoid overhanging branches from slapping against panel trucks driving near the edge of the road.
• Slope Steepness
Plant material can barely establish on slopes steeper than 3:1, and mowing on steeper slopes is not possible to do safely. The clear zone doesn’t exist for slopes steeper than this.
• Sight Lines
Drivers need to be able to see oncoming traffic when they attempt to turn into or cross over public roadways. It is the designer’s responsibility to keep sight lines open.