Front Yard Landscaping IDEAS Ontario
Front Yard Gardening
Growing edible plants in front yards is becoming an increasingly popular use of urban space. This information sheet will provide an understanding of the benefits to having a front yard edible garden, the rules surrounding the establishment of a front yard edible garden in Ottawa, and things that one should avoid or be cautious of when gardening edible plants in their front yard.
Benefits of front yard edible gardens:
- Productive use of lawn space by growing food such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Diverts water from grass into something that can be eaten.
- A very safe and healthy way to grow nutritious food, with no need for pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.
- In many circumstances, there is more sunlight on a front yard than a backyard, which allows for better conditions for growing plants.
- Enhances biodiversity and attracts pollinators
- Allows for experimenting with varieties of food that cannot typically be found in a grocery store.
- Can be used as a tool to educate children about growing their own food.
- Can be used as a way to start conversations with neighbours and passers-by.
- Can become a symbol of pride for the neighbourhood if it attracts people and is aesthetically pleasing for local residents.
- If part of the harvest from the garden is offered to those in need through a local emergency food distribution point, it can aid in the overall food security of a neighbourhood.
Regulations to be considered when planning edible front yard gardens:
- If planning to start an edible front yard garden on leased land, it is necessary to obtain written permission from the landowner.
- There are two relevant by-laws are: 1) Property standards bylaw 2013-416 and 2) Use and Care of Roads By-law (2003-498)
- The Property Standards bylaw 2013-416 refers to residential yards, and allows for plants, including edible plants, on front yards so long as they do not interfere with pedestrians or vehicles and do not pose a hazard or an obstruction of view to the public. Examples of violations would be cucumbers that extend onto the sidewalk, or corn stalks that obstructed a neighbour’s view of oncoming traffic from their driveway.
- The road allowance is the land located between the property line and the road. This area is City property. The front yard encompasses the area between the dwelling and the property line. The property line can be found in the plan of survey of the house. If you do not have access to your plan of survey, you can call the Land Registry office, which is a provincial office. Their number is 613-239-1230.
- The road allowance varies depending on the street and the zoning of the neighbourhood. The area is usually between 4 and 6 metres in depth. If you know your property line, you can measure from there until the road to determine the size of the road allowance. While this property belongs to the City, there is nothing restricting someone from planting edible plants on this land. However, doing so is at the risk of the grower, since the City reserves the right to use this land to access amenities that are usually underground, such as sewers and cables. There is no formal permitting process that the City has for this activity, but it also is not expressly prohibited.
- It is prohibited to build a permanent structure, such as a raised bed or a garden tool shed within the road allowance area.
- Front yard gardening should not interfere with the easement rights of either a neighbour or a utility. It is also important to consult the plan of survey to determine if any easement rights exist for neighbours or utilities to the area that you plan to use for edible plants. Easements are the right of either a neighbour or a utility to trespass onto the property in question. This could interfere with your gardening, and it is possible that your gardening could interfere with their easement rights.
- Zoning bylaw require that all yards be landscaped with soft landscaping, which includes edible plants, where there is an absence of hard landscaping (driveway, walkway, pavement, rocks). To find out more about bylaw, please visit the City of Ottawa’s web site.