V. Plantings - Hedges, Trees, etc.

  2. Trees are what gave Greenbelt its name. Historically, our community has treasured its belt of green and has worked to preserve what remains today. GHI land is composed of one-third woodland and the cooperative is committed to preserving and nurturing its forests. Members of this cooperative community hold ownership of all 250 acres of our land in common.

    Each member has both a responsibility to and an interest in the upkeep of the whole. In practice, this means each member must properly care for the portion of cooperative property allocated to the member's unit, otherwise known as the member's yard. Members should report to the Maintenance Staff any landscape related problem observed within common areas.

    1. Tree: A tree refers to a woody plant that has a habit of or is trained to be a single trunk plant, or sometimes a multiple trunk plant, growing to a height of at least twelve [12] feet at maturity.
    2. Shrub: A bushy woody plant with several permanent stems instead of a single trunk, not to exceed the height of fifteen [15] feet.
    3. Hedge: A row of closely planted shrubs forming a boundary or fence.
    4. Vine: Any plant with a long stem that grows along the ground, or climbs a wall, or any other support structure.
    1. There are many resources available to members to assist them in landscape planning and plant selection for their yards. The information rack in the GHI administration building's lobby has useful information. Neighbors are happy to share their gardening success stories. GHI has a Home and Garden Tour each year to provide members with an opportunity to explore ideas with each other.
    2. Know the size of a plant at maturity and plan accordingly. Trees and shrubs planted in the wrong location can cause extensive problems, including broken sidewalks, clogged sewer lines and storm drains, structural damage and impassable walkways. These problems are costly to the cooperative and its members. GHI staff can assist members in locating swales, utility lines, and other constraints prior to landscape planning. 
    3. An assessment of growing conditions - sunny vs. shady, and dry vs. wet - will help determine the plants that are appropriate for the member's yard.
    4. Consult the recommended planting list in Subsection I for trees, shrubs, ground covers, and vines that are appropriate for the GHI environment and infrastructure. The recommended list suggests native plants that grow well in our area and are better able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
    1. Hedges are a hallmark of GHI masonry homes and are important additions to the yards of many frame homes. Hedges were originally used in the community instead of fences. Fences have become more prevalent since pets were permitted in the cooperative. Hedges are still the preferred fencing in our community because they help preserve our historical legacy. Well-maintained hedges are a beautiful community asset; however, hedges can become safety hazards if not properly maintained.
    2. Approval Requirements
      1. Members must secure written approval from GHI Technical Services prior to planting or replacing a hedge along yard line boundaries. GHI will assist members in selecting plant type and correctly locating planting locations. A hedge approval form is available upon request from GHI.
      2. Members must also obtain permission from the adjoining neighbors prior to installing or replacing a hedge on a shared yard line. If permission is not obtained, the hedge shall be set back one half the width of the plant at maturity from the shared yard line.
    3. Setback requirements
      1. To provide sufficient right-of-way for pedestrian and handicap access, sidewalk repairs, maintenance, and public safety, hedges must be set back from sidewalks, parking lots, and intersections.
      2. Hedge LocationMinimum Hedge SetbackReason
        Along shared and individual sidewalks leading to unit entries From paved edge: 12" plus ½ plant width at maturity. Public safety, snow removal, pedestrian & handicap access, and routine maintenance.
        Along walkways, access lanes, paved sidewalks, parking areas & driveways From paved edge: 18" plus ½ plant width at maturity. Public safety, snow removal, pedestrian & handicap access, and routine maintenance.
        Street rights-of-ways and court entrances From curb edge: 36" plus ½ plant width at maturity. Public safety
        Hedge plant at maturity    
      3. Hedges planted improperly are subject for replanting or removal at the member's expense.
      4. Existing hedges are allowed to remain as sited except where the City or County regulations require immediate compliance. Any new or altered hedges will be required to satisfy the setback requirements.Hedges planted improperly are subject for replanting or removal at the member's expense.
    4. Maintenance requirements
      1. Hedges are composed of shrubs or trees that can be trimmed to maintain and control size. Some shrubs like to be well-trimmed; others look mutilated when severely shaped. The choice of shrub will depend on a member's landscape design. Hedges between yards can be given more room and freedom than a hedge bordering a sidewalk or driveway. Study the site where the hedge is planned and the habit of the desired species to see if there is a good match.
      2. Hedges should be kept in a neat and uniform appearance at all times. GHI and the City of Greenbelt require members to keep hedges trimmed back so they do not obstruct walkways, access lanes, parking lots, and court driveways in either wet or dry weather.
      3. Hedge Location and height requirements
      4. Hedge LocationMaximum hedge heightReason
        Street right-of-ways and court entrances 42"
        (3½ feet)
        above the roadway
        City of Greenbelt  & Prince Georges County legal requirement to ensure public safety and eliminate automobile hazards caused by an obstructed view.
      5. GHI encourages members to trim hedges to maintain a consistent hedgerow height within a court to maintain visual uniformity.
      6. Thorny plants are not permitted along walkways, access lanes, or court driveways. Members should remove such plants from hedgerows.
      7. Members are responsible for removing poison ivy from hedges.
    5. Hedges which form a boundary between neighboring yards may not be removed without mutual consent of the adjacent members.
    6. A list of recommended shrubs for use as hedges or other plantings can be found in Subsection I. The recommended list suggests native plants that grow well in our area and are better able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
  6. TREES
    1. Trees add wonderful beauty and value to our community. However, improperly sited and maintained trees can damage structures and facilities causing high costs to all GHI members. Selecting the "Right Tree" for the "Right Place" is important. There are dozens of species of tree that grow well within Greenbelt. GHI recommends planting native species of trees that grow well in our area and are better able to withstand extreme weather conditions. A list of suggested trees can be found in Subsection I.
    2. Selection and Planting
      1. Members must secure written approval from the GHI Technical Services prior to planting a tree or before nurturing a tree that has grown from a seed. GHI staff will be able to supply information that will be helpful in selecting a good location for the tree, suggesting tree varieties, and may be able to help purchase a tree at a discounted price. Failure to secure written approval may result in transplanting or removal at member's expense.
      2. Large trees are defined as those species that are expected to grow to heights from twenty-five [25] to over forty [40] feet, with trunks that are large at maturity and root structures that are extensive. Trees this size may pose structural hazards, safety and maintenance concerns. When choosing the correct tree for your yard is important to take these factors into consideration.
      3. Small trees are defined as those species that are not expected to grow taller than fifteen [15] to twenty-five [25] feet in height. Their trunks are small in diameter. Trees this size may pose facade, access, swale, and utility concerns. When choosing the correct tree for your yard is important to take these factors into consideration.
      4. A list of problem trees with less desirable or undesirable characteristics can be found in Subsection H. The list alerts members to trees susceptible to insect, root, seed, and storm problems. GHI discourages their use in member yards.
    3. Planting Restrictions
      1. No tree shall be planted within a yard swale or in such a way as to obstruct underground utilities, storm drains, or water and sewer lines.
      2. Trees will be located to minimize or prevent problems for overhead utilities such as power, cable or phone lines. Large trees must be located twenty [20] to fifty [50] feet from such lines depending on tree species. Small trees that do not exceed twenty-five [25] feet at maturity may be planted underneath overhead lines with approval from GHI.
      3. Small trees shall not be planted closer than ten [10] feet from a dwelling or addition or closer than six [6] feet from a garage, shed or fence.
      4. Large trees shall never be planted closer than twenty [20] feet from any building or structures unless otherwise specified to avoid damage to the foundation and roof of the structures.
      5. Large trees should be planted at least ten [10] feet from sidewalks and paved surfaces unless otherwise specified to avoid damage to walkways and pavement.
      6. GHI reserves the right to make recommendations on tree planting locations and deny a member permission to plant a tree that is inappropriate for their yard.
      7. Trees in common areas will be planted and maintained by GHI or City personnel only.
    4. Maintenance Requirements
      1. Members are responsible for pruning saplings and limbs lower than eight (8) feet within their yards. The Maintenance Department is responsible for mature trees and limbs above eight (8) feet in yards and all trees in common areas.
      2. Branches must be kept trimmed so they do not touch buildings in order to avoid facade damage, and to allow reasonable access for regular maintenance (cleaning gutters or mildew off siding) and periodic repair (filling cracks in masonry). If a limb extends into a neighbor's yard, the members affected must reach agreement before pruning or removing a limb.
      3. Members are responsible for reporting any hazardous conditions they note that may be caused by dead or broken tree limbs, branches rubbing on roofs or siding, and other hazards created by trees in members' yards or common areas. The Director of Physical Plant Operations will make the final determination about how hazardous conditions will be eliminated or reduced. GHI will make every effort to notify members before work is done on a tree in their yard.
      4. Members are responsible for removing tree saplings that have sprung up anywhere in their yard, paying particular attention to the garden, fence line, or hedgerow. These young trees may cause damage to fences, structures, swales, and other plants when they mature.
    5. Removal or Alteration
      1. Removal of Trees by GHI
        1. Any tree may be removed or substantially altered by GHI if it is sufficiently diseased or damaged to warrant the work, or if it is situated in such a way that it has a clear adverse affect on the building or other improvements, such as utility lines, swales, drains, etc.
        2. Examples of trees which may be considered for removal include:
          1. trees that are too close together;
          2. seedling trees that have grown up in fence lines or hedge rows;
          3. trees that are damaging GHI maintained walkways;
          4. trees growing too close to a unit or garage;
          5. trees whose roots cause damage to underground utilities or interfere with overhead utilities;
          6. trees that interfere with an approved addition.
        3. When GHI removes a tree from a member's yard, the member may request that a tree be planted nearby, if possible. GHI will make every effort to notify members before work is done on a tree in their yard.
        4. When circumstances require review of an Addition request by the A&E Committee, their recommendation for removal of affected trees should be included in the committee's overall recommendation to the Board.
      2. Removal of Trees by Members
        1. Members may remove or alter any tree within their yard that is less than eight (8) feet tall without permission or the need to replace it.
        2. Any tree in a member's yard eight (8) feet or taller may be removed at the member's expense with the approval of the Board of Directors. Trees over eight (8) feet tall will not be removed solely for the convenience of the member or GHI. Permission to remove the tree may be conditional upon planting, at the member's expense, one tree of specified size and type in any locations so directed.
    1. The long-term health of GHI's wooded parcels is adversely affected by the planting of invasive plant species in yards, where they can spread by various means into the woodland.
    2. Many species, such as Euonymus hedges and English Ivy, once were encouraged, but are known today to be dangerous to the ecosystem. Over time, these problem plants spread into woodland areas where they crowd out native plants, kill trees, and harm wildlife habitat. Additional information on invasive plants is available at the GHI Administrative Building or on the GHI website.
    3. The Woodland Committee is tasked with helping to control the spread of these invasive plants within the woodlands. A list of invasive plants prohibited from being planted or encouraged in GHI can be found in Subsection G.
    4. Invasive Plant Control
      1. Members are asked to follow a program to gradually eliminate all invasive plants from their yards. GHI requires members to control certain invasive plants within their yards.
      2. Plant/TypeActionStatus
        English Ivy and non-native Wisteria Remove vines climbing on trees, buildings, and structures and prevent spread beyond yard boundary. Required by GHI
        Running Bamboo Prevent from spread beyond yard boundary. Required by GHI
        Poison Ivy Remove as indicated in §III.B.10., §IV.D.6., §V.D.4.f. Required by GHI
      3. GHI will provide members with native plant alternatives and make native trees and shrubs available to members at-cost through the State of Maryland Tree-mendous Program in the fall. Additional information is available at the GHI Administrative Offices.
  9. Members are encouraged to remove invasive plant species present their yard. Over time the problem plants on this list should be eradicated from member yards. Members shall not introduce any of these plants into their yard or garden area.

    Ground Covers
    English Ivy [Hedera helix]
    Periwinkle [Vinca major and minor]
    Wintercreeper [Euonymus fortunei]

    Bush Honeysuckle [Lonicera spp.]
    Burning Bush [Euonymus alatus]
    Butterfly Bush [Buddleia davidii]
    Japanese and European Barberry [Berberis thunbergii and B. vulgaris]
    Japanese Spirea [Spiraea japonica]
    Multiflora Rose [Rosa multiflora]
    Privet, Chinese [Ligustrum sinense]
    Privet, European [Ligustrum vulgare]
    Privet, Japanese [Ligustrum japonicum]
    Wintercreeper [Euonymus fortunei]

    Bradford Pear [Pyrus calleryana]
    English Holly [Ilex aquifolium]
    Norway Maple [Acer platanoides]
    Sycamore Maple [Acer pseudoplatanus]
    Tree of Heaven [Ailianthus altissima]

    English Ivy [Hedera helix]
    Japanese Honeysuckle [Lonicera japonica]
    Kudzu [Pueraria lobata]
    Porcelain Berry [Ampelopsis brevipedunculata]
    Oriental Bittersweet [Celastrus orbiculatus]
    Wisteria, Chinese [Wisteria sinensis]
    Wisteria, Japanese [Wisteria floribunda]

    Bamboo [any 'running' species]
    Purple Loosestrife


    The list alerts members to trees less desirable characteristics such as susceptibility to insect, root, seed, and storm-damage problems. GHI discourages members from planting or nurturing these trees in their yards. These trees should only be allowed to grow in woodland areas away from structures and facilities.

    1. American Beech - very aggressive roots, can damage sidewalks and structures
    2. American Elm - subject to Dutch Elm disease, choose disease resistant varieties
    3. Austrian pine - subject to Diplodia tip blight
    4. Locust - aggressive, thorny tree with short lifespan
    5. London Plane - aggressive roots, can damage sidewalks and structures
    6. Mulberry - aggressive seedlings grow in hedgerows and fence lines
    7. Pin Oak - drooping lower branches require frequent pruning
    8. Silver Maple - aggressive roots & prone to dieback and storm damage
    9. Sweet Gum - spiny "gum balls" cause nuisance, prone to dieback
    10. Tulip Poplar - very prone to storm damage & insects drip honeydew
    11. Wild Black Cherry - highly susceptible to tent caterpillars
    12. Willows of any kind - aggressive roots, can damage swales and water lines

    For lists of Recommended Plants: