Deciding to embark on a major landscaping project is such an exciting aspect of being a homeowner. Like the interior, it feels incredible to have the exterior of our homes reflect our lifestyle and personality. But, similar to home renovation, there are particular bylaws that we must abide by, and depending on the size of the landscaping project, we will often need permits to move forward with a project.
While smaller-scale projects like planting a new garden or installing a rock garden generally do not require any landscaping permits, more significant jobs like decks, water features, large sheds, grading, and fences do. Let’s look deeper into these bylaws and how to apply for and get landscaping permits approved—we’re here to help demystify the process.
Development Permits vs. Building Permits
There are two different types of permits: development permits and building permits. Development permits ensure that you are abiding by zoning rules such as:
- Allowed use of a property
- Setbacks from property lines
- Other buildings on property
- Parking requirements
- Building height and site coverage
On the other hand, a building permit ensures that any construction project will adhere to the building code, which addresses both structural and fire safety.
How Do I Know If I Will Need Permits For My Landscaping Projects?
Here is a breakdown of some major landscaping projects that require a permit in the City of Edmonton:
Like most bylaws pertaining to home or landscaping projects, permits are required for some deck builds but not others.
You don’t need a development permit if you intend to build a deck that is:
- Less than 1.2 metres above the ground
- Does not have a roof or walls
- Is entirely located within your backyard or a side yard
- And is not within a corner lot
Once your deck plans begin to add roof or walls, exceed the height requirements and other aspects listed above, you will require permits.
Incorrect drainage in your yard can lead to a whole host of nightmare problems, so as landscape professionals, grading and drainage are some of the first things we look at as we embark on any design project. Without proper drainage, you could encounter foundational issues due to water seeping into your home. If a project doesn’t pass the final grade requirements, you could end up redoing the whole landscaping project to correct the issues.
Any landscaping project that will adjust or change the slope or elevation of soil around your home requires a grading plan and a permit. A slope of 10% is generally required for the first four feet, and you cannot drain water away from your property toward your neighbours (or vice versa). You’ll want to make sure you have a rough grade certificate (usually acquired when your home’s foundation is built) and a final grade certificate for any landscaping project that will adjust the slope of your yard in any way.
Fences & Walls
If you are hoping to install a new fence or wall, it will require a development permit beyond a certain height. Anything higher than 1.2 metres in a front or side yard on a corner lot or higher than 1.85 metres in any other yard will require a permit.
Edmonton has a zoning bylaw that requires properties to be landscaped within 18 months of occupancy; this pertains mainly to new builds and developments. The idea is not to have homes sitting on a bare patch of dirt for years. You can plant trees or shrubs in any area on your property, and sod must be visible from any public street.
Hard Surface Bylaws
Driveways are restricted to a width of 3.7 metres per side-by-side parking stall, so if you have a two-car garage, your driveway has to max out at 7.4 metres wide. Any continuous asphalt or concrete on your property must be limited to walkways to your door or driveways leading from the street to your garage or parking area.
As you can probably tell by now, there are many little details to understand when it comes to embarking on any kind of major landscaping project in the City of Edmonton! At Salisbury Landscaping, we are with our clients from design until completion. We ensure that every aspect of the job is done to code and passes all final grade and inspection requirements. If you are interested in learning more about permit requirements in Edmonton, one of our landscape experts would be happy to answer any questions and get started designing your next dream landscaping project!