In-Ground Planting Area

Planting areas within plazas that are level with the surrounding grade. The size and shape of the area may vary, and it is typically employed where there are few underground constraints.

Corona Plaza, National Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Queens


See Benefits of Plantings in the ROW in the Introduction

  • Plants add character to a plaza and provide secondary environmental benefits
  • Plazas provide more room for planting and allow for a greater diversity of plants


See General Guidelines

  • Account for existing and proposed pedestrian circulation, especially major desire lines to crosswalks, building entrances, and pedestrian generators such as transit connections
  • Plazas should maintain a feeling of openness; plantings should not block critical sight lines
  • Proximity to vehicular traffic and pedestrian circulation will impact the size and shape of the planting areas
  • Positive drainage must be established in all planting areas
  • Consider worker access to the plantings for regular maintenance activities; access to a water source for irrigation should be provided
  • Any plantings not maintained by DOT, DEP, or Parks will require a maintenance agreement


  • Plantings must be considered in context of the overall plaza design. See Pedestrian Plaza for design guidance
  • Maintain a clear path for any major pedestrian desire lines or defined circulation paths; if the plaza is located in front of a building, provide an additional clear path adjacent to the building
  • Provide adequate soil volume/rooting area for plantings; see Soils in General Guidelines
  • Design plantings in relation to seating areas or other areas of interest to create or define edges, to add visual interest, to provide shade, and/or to provide other protection for plaza users
  • Select plants that provide year-round interest; utilize combinations of plants that have contrasting textures, colors, and forms
  • Plant densely to discourage littering, trampling and other improper uses
  • Direct stormwater runoff into plantings wherever possible. See Stormwater Management Practices
  • In heavily trafficked areas, consider the use of suspended paving systems to maximize circulation while preventing soil compaction. Consider the use of a tree-bed guard where feasible