Navigating Landscaping Codes in the West Metro: A Comprehensive Guide

Maintaining compliance with city codes is crucial for landscapers in the West Metro of the Twin Cities, and understanding these regulations can streamline project execution. After conducting thorough phone interviews with city planners from over 20 municipalities, a consensus emerges, particularly regarding retaining walls, patios, firepits, and setback requirements.

In most cities, retaining walls under four feet tall generally do not require permits. However, it’s crucial to note that the total height, including the buried base block, must be considered. Patios, while often permit-free, warrant careful consideration. Calculating hardcover allowances is essential to ensure the new patio doesn’t exceed maximum impervious surface thresholds for the lot. Prospective project initiators should consult their local city planners to ascertain specific hardcover calculations before proceeding.

The use of firepits is a popular landscaping feature, but adherence to Minnesota state code is imperative. In-ground firepits must maintain a minimum distance of 25 feet from combustible materials, including decks, fences, sheds, and woodpiles. Alternatively, movable firepits require a 15-foot separation from combustible materials. Landscapers must be diligent in incorporating these safety measures into their designs to avoid potential hazards.

For retaining walls featuring four or more steps, a crucial code requirement emerges: the installation of railings. This safety measure ensures compliance with local regulations, promoting secure outdoor environments.

Setbacks play a pivotal role in landscaping projects, with the most common distance metrics being 10 feet for front and back yards and 5 feet for side yards. However, special attention must be given to projects near water bodies like creeks or lakeshores, as the scope may change based on environmental considerations. These setbacks accommodate drainage and utility easements typically found in these areas. While this information serves as a general guideline for most cities, variations do exist, prompting the need for direct communication with each city hall.

Each city is different

Some municipalities, such as Shorewood, Victoria, and Chanhassen, enforce strict regulations, requiring permits for all projects. In contrast, cities like Edina, Eden Prairie, Chaska, Prior Lake, Bloomington, and St. Louis Park exhibit more leniency. However, it’s essential to note that even cities with nominal permit costs may have a slow permitting process, particularly during the peak landscaping season in summer. Landscapers are advised to proactively engage with local authorities and plan accordingly to ensure seamless project execution.