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Tree-lined parkways in autumn

Much of Denver’s unique identity and sense of place is built on the system of interconnected parkways, parks and neighborhoods. As early as the 1870’s, city leaders began transforming Denver’s character from a dry and dusty prairie into the green oasis of today by creating parks and parkways.

In Denver, parkway management is the responsibility of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Caring for and maintaining these treasured streets is complex as it requires the combined efforts of city agencies, the historic preservation community, elected officials, neighborhoods and residents

Parkway Design Guidelines
Parkway rules and regulations

Definition of Terms

Public land that includes the street, tree lawn and sidewalk. The right-of-way width is established by the city. The right-of way also defines the boundary line along the street frontage of a property. In the case of parkways, the right-of-way is defined by the parkway ordinances.

The distance from the right-of-way that permanent structures such as houses and walls can be located. Development on private property is regulated by the city to establish set-back requirements. Set-back distances for parkways are defined by the parkway ordinances and provide the basic framework for the parkway character.

The area between the curb and edge of a detached sidewalk. Tree lawns are an integral component of the parkway character and typically very generous to create a distinctive park-like setting. Street trees are located within the tree lawn and often establish a continuous overhead canopy embracing the street. The lawn under the trees also reinforces the continuity of the parkway landscape. While this area is part of the public right-of-way, individual property owners are responsible for the maintenance of this area. Trees in the tree lawn along parkways are cared for by the city.

The median is a landscaped area separating the street into each direction of travel. Medians along the parkway are typically landscaped with lawn and trees. Shrub masses and flower beds may also add to the park-like setting of the parkway. Some medians are so wide, they can be used as linear parks for recreational uses such as walking dogs and jogging. A median is not always present on a parkway.

The private front yard is the space between the right-of-way and the front of a home or building facing the parkway. The front yard is an important component of a parkway and in many cases the character of the parkway is dependent on the consistency of the set-back and continuous spacious lawns on each side of the street.

Q: Where does the parkway setback start?
A: The property line (not the curb).

Q: What landscaping does DPR recommend?
A: Generally, DPR recommends a low-water hybrid turf along the parkway to preserve the green, park-like setting.

Q: Can I use rock mulch on my private property along a parkway?
A: DPR does not recommend rock mulch because it can harm historic trees that are acclimated to more water supply. Rock mulch also impacts the green park-like appearance that the parkways are intended to promote.

Q: What about new buildings along a parkway?
A: Section 49-18 of the municipal code requires every building to front on a parkway unless the existing development context would show otherwise (e.g. corner lot property; project has a side adjacent to the parkway consistent with the existing block pattern).

Q: Who can I contact for more information and clarification?
A: Please send an email to or call 720.913.0623.

Q: Is there an application fee for a parkways exception request?
A: No, DPR provides this service to citizens free-of-charge. Download an exception request application.

Contact Us

Phone: 720.865.2982


Download an Exception Request form and email it to

Do You Live on a Parkway?

Structures located on private property along Denver’s designated parkways are subject to building line restrictions in accordance with and subject to the standards, requirements and procedures of the Parkway Building Line Restrictions Policy. Use the drop-down menu below to find maps of Denver parkways.