Landscape Guidelines

The Landscape Guidelines apply to the site design of all homes in Larch Park.  It is important, however, that they are not read in isolation as many aspects of design are addressed in the Architecture, Sustainability and Area Specific sections.


Larch Park is located in one of the most beautiful natural environments in Edmonton. To the east it borders Larch Park Sanctuary, home to 28 bird species, and over 70 acres of forest. Mactaggart Sanctuary is just south of the community. To the west are Rabbit Hill and Magrath Parks.

The goals of the landscape guidelines are to ensure:

  1. Connections between individual sites & the surrounding landscape; and,
  2. Connections between the homes and their individual sites.

We want to achieve a welcoming landscape across the entire community, a habitat where people, plants and birds can flourish. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to think beyond the property line. Consider how the site connects with the adjacent properties and nearby natural areas.

A fundamental principle of sustainable environmental design is to ensure homes are situated in ways that take advantage of their specific site. For example, building placement can mitigate winds and maximize solar exposure during long winter months. The Landscaping Guidelines are intended to reinforce this principle, as are the Architectural and Sustainability Guidelines.

Finally, these Landscaping Guidelines consider the experience from inside the home as well as the impact that the landscaping has on the house.

Grading and Drainage


Lot grading is to follow the natural slope of the landform and is to be consistent with the approved subdivision grading plan.

  • The minimum slope is 2%
  • A slightly undulating grade reflects that found in the natural environment and is thus encouraged. Placement of landscape material and / or berms, however, must not alter the drainage pattern indicated on the grading plan.
  • Final grading plans must be approved by the City of Edmonton Drainage Department, Grading plan approval will be a condition of refund of security deposit.

Access to Home / Visitability

  • See Visitability for more information on how walkways and entrances to homes can be made more welcoming to the mobility impaired.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls on private lots are generally discouraged, but where required they shall:

  • be no greater the 600mm high above finished grade;
  • be constructed of natural, long lasting material such as mortared stone or large boulders; and
  • be finished in same finish as house, when wall extends from house wall.

Sandblasted concrete retaining walls may be permitted on Capital Modern houses when they are integral to the design of the home.

Modular concrete  retaining walls are not permitted in front yards

Plant Material

Master-planned Landscaping / Landscape Corridors

In several instances, the developer has prepared landscape plans that span both public and private land.  The intent of such plans is to improve the overall appearance of the community, to create identifiable streets and to provide important wildlife linkages throughout the community. The Area Specific Guidelines indicate such areas and outline the rationale and requirements for each.


In Larch Park, we strongly encourage seed-source identified native plant material as they will be hardier, more drought tolerant and require less water.  Refer to the Plant List section for more information.  This section also lists restricted species, typically those that are poisonous or invasive.

Solar Access

The Area Specific Guidelines indicate area where the mature height of trees will be limited in order  that roof top solar panels are not shaded.

Fences and Garden Walls

Fences in Front Yards

Unless specifically permitted or required in the Area Specific Guidelines, fences shall not be located in front yards.

Fences in Side Yards

On interior side yards between houses, fences shall be:

  • set back from the front property line by a distance of 10.0m.

Rear Fences at Lanes

In order to improve the landscaped character of rear lanes, fences shall be set back 0.5m from the rear face of the garage.  Planting of trees in the area between the fence and the asphalt is highly recommended.

Garden Walls

In these guidelines, the term Garden Wall refers to a carefully designed wall in a highly visible lot such as a flanking lot. 

An appropriately located garden wall can provide privacy to the adjacent homeowner and a positive pedestrian environment to the adjacent road and sidewalk.  These walls should be well detailed and can vary in height from 1.0 to 1.8m tall.  Garden walls may be constructed of stone, brick or decorative wrought iron with stone/brick pillars. 

Refer to Area Specific Guidelines, for specific locations.

Driveways and Walks

Front Steps

An upgraded front step and walkway can add richness to the pedestrian environment and add value to the home.

For  a single family house, builders shall offer purchasers at least one upgraded front step and walk option containing quality materials such as brick or slate.

Front Walks

On lots with front driveways, the front walk shall be of consistent design and material as the front driveway.

Walks to homes without front driveways shall be constructed of exposed aggregate, patterned concrete, or sandblasted concrete.  Their design shall be compatible with the styling of the home and shall be respectful of the adjacent topography.

Front Driveways

All driveways and the adjacent landscaping should be designed to minimize their visual impact when viewed from the street or an adjacent property.  To this end all front driveways shall:

  • have curvilinear form
  • have a narrow portion at the front property line – refer to Area Specific Guidelines for dimensions
  • be setback from an adjacent property line by a minimum of 1.0 m.

Driveways and front walks are to be constructed of:

  • exposed aggregate concrete,
  • patterned or stamped concrete,
  • cobblestone-like pavers,
  • porous surfaces.

Broom finished concrete driveways will only be permitted if lined with a minimum 300mm border of coloured concrete, pavers or stone.

High quality alternatives will be considered based on quality and design merit.

Grading of driveways and walks should be carefully considered to drain wherever possible into adjacent landscaped areas.  “Funneling” of entire driveways to the street is discouraged.

Lane Accessed Garages

In order to provide a more pleasant lane environment, driveways / aprons serving lane accessed garages shall:

  • be no more than 0.6m wider than the garage door it serves, 
  • have the area adjacent to this apron landscaped with sod, groundcover or 50mm angular grey stone.

In situations were there is a parking pad adjacent to a lane accessed garage, the apron shall not extend beyond the pad.

See also Area Specific Guidelines for locations where additional lane landscaping may be required.

Other Landscape Elements


In order to minimize light pollution and energy consumption, exterior lights shall be subtle.  They should be restricted to entrance doors, porches and outdoor patios.

Accessory Structures

Structures such as play areas, barbeque structures, storages sheds should be located to not negatively impact views from adjacent homes.  They should also be de designed to integrate with the topography of the site and be constructed of materials matching those of the house.

Clothes Lines

Exterior clothes lines are permitted in side and rear yards.  They should be designed and located to minimize visibility from adjacent public and private property.

“Corridors, then, are not narrow strips along which animals might walk from one remote refuge to another, as these days (we) travel along the highways, but a continuity of living quarters among which movement is generational -- by dispersal, not migration -- from patch to patch along networks that may well originate in parklands or reservations but that must spread through all of our back yards.

...neighbours feed the spread by what they plant and they plant it. I enjoy my garden’s private jokes, but animals don’t perceive my land as private. They don’t get this business of subdivisions. They are, as far as they know, on public ground. “My” butterflies need your flowers. “My” birds need your grain.”

From Noah’s Garden - Restoring The Ecology Of Our Own Back Yards by Sara Stein, p 252

Larch Guidelines Version 3.0