Historic Landscaping

Landscape preservation is becoming just as important as building preservation in the United States. Identifying, retaining, and preserving the existing spatial organization and land patterns of the landscape as they have evolved over time is very important in landscape preservation. Start your project by documenting the features of your property that make it special and define the previously mentioned relationships. Pay close attention to the size, proportions, configuration, and relationships in your landscape and the components that comprise it.

Stemmons Park, Dallas


Common Questions

1. How restrictive are historic landscape codes in Dallas?
As with most codes and ordinances, it depends on your district and neighborhood. It is always best to check first with the city or Preservation Dallas for more specific information on your area.

2. If I have a historic property how do I properly identify appropriate plants?
Old photos are a great resource. If you cannot find any from your actual property, check with your neighbors. Garden clubs were very popular when the city was starting out, and the newspaper often covered garden parties. Looking in the library archives might provide you a great starting point. For the most part, the properties in Dallas will have vernacular landscapes that might have reflected more of the day to day life of the time. Use written records, check the city’s ariel maps collection, or possibly find a local landscape architect who might be more familiar with historic plant life.

3. What about xeriscaping?
For the most part, xeriscaping is not historically accurate for the City of Dallas. While xeriscaping does cut down on maintenance and water usage and can be visually appealing with the right home, it is a more recent landscape development. As a general rule of thumb, if no one else in your neighborhood or district is using xeriscaping, you probably shouldn’t either.


Key Concepts to Keep in Mind:

  1. Identify, retain, and preserve historic materials and features
  2. Stabilize and protect deteriorating historic features as your first option
  3. Try to maintain and repair as much of the original material palette as possible
  4. Limit the amount of replacement if possible
  5. Take into account any special considerations (especially for commercial properties) such as accessibility, health and safety, environmental concerns, and energy efficiency


Supplemental Articles

NPS Preservation Brief 36 – Protecting Cultural Landscapes: Planning, Treatment and Management of Historic Landscapes


Supplemental Text Found at the Wilson House

  • Preserving Modern Landscape Architecture: Papers from the Wave Hill- National Parks Service Conference
  • Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings: A Handbook for Reproducing and Creating Authentic Landscape Settings by Rudy J. and Joy Putman Favretti


Landscape Support Documents List

Landscape Identification

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