Remaining within the Law Considering Legal Issues

7250 Landscaping Designs

7250 Landscaping Designs

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The long arm of the law doesn't reach as far into landscaping as is does into other aspects of modern life. But you certainly need to consider specific legal issues when planning your sustainable landscape. Here are a few of the most important issues to keep in mind:

Architectural review boards: A major landscaping project may require community approval to be sure its appearance is consistent with neighboring features. Check with your community's building or zoning department for specifics.

Building permits: Permit requirements vary from place to place, of course. But generally speaking, you need a building permit — and perhaps other approvals — to do any kind of major construction, such as working on decks, retaining walls, fences, electrical work (other than low-voltage lighting), certain portions of your irrigation system, and most anything else that affects public safety. In most areas, you don't need a building permit to do planting, minor grading, or other horticul-turally oriented projects.

The best strategy is to call your city building department and ask which permits are required.

Covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs): These are the legal constraints describing what you may and may not do on your property. Check your title documents to see how CC&Rs work on your property.

Easements: An easement is a legal right of others to enter or work on your property. For instance, a utility company, a government entity, or another public interest may have access to your property to run power

lines, grant beach access, or work on a sewer main. Construction in these areas may be restricted if it would get in the way of that access. You may find easements in your community as well. The introduction of tall trees and other view-blocking features may be controlled on these pieces of land. Start by checking the title documents to your property and follow up with a call to the county records office and possibly the utility companies that serve your area.

  • Legal liability: Take care not to create trip hazards, slippery surfaces, and other nuisances for which you could be sued if someone hurts himself. Similarly, don't plant poisonous, treacherously thorny, or highly fire-prone plants.
  • Neighbors: Many bitter conflicts over landscaping have destroyed relationships between neighbors. To avoid such a situation, inform your neighbors about your project and apologize in advance for the noise and hubbub that will accompany it. Respect your neighbors' rights to the preservation of views, privacy, and sunshine. In other words, don't plant invasive plants or tall trees that will affect the environment of others without getting permission first. Similarly, don't direct storm water onto neighboring property (that's illegal) and don't destabilize soil on slopes.

If you're part of a homeowner's association or other neighborhood group, your project may have to be approved by that group. However, even if you have a great deal of freedom to do what you want in your community, it often isn't good politics to exercise that freedom to its fullest extent.

Work with your neighbors to create a sustainable neighborhood. Coordinate food production, develop local water-harvesting systems that span property boundaries, and cooperate on safety issues, such fire protection. Why let sustainability stop at your property lines? Get the whole community involved!

  • Property lines: Have all property lines surveyed before doing any construction. That way you'll be sure that you aren't encroaching on your neighbor's property. Otherwise, you may be faced with costly repairs or legal bills. Call a licensed land surveyor for help.
  • Zoning and setbacks: Nearly every community has zoning restrictions that govern how you can and can't use your property. This restriction controls the presence of livestock, the use of land for commercial purposes, and many other things. Setbacks are invisible, internal boundaries within your property in which your freedom to build certain types of structures is limited. For example, you probably aren't allowed to build a tall arbor right on your property line where it could affect neighbors. Similarly, many communities restrict the height of fences in the front yard. Regulations vary from community to community, so check with the zoning department at city hall.

Part III

Water, Water, Everywhere: Water-Conserving Irrigation and Drainage

The 5th Wave By Rich Tennant

Rich Tennant Legal

"TVs wvy husband's idea o£ a drtp irrigation system."

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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