Ideas for Greening Your Yard to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Did you ever think about landscaping your yard to minimize your carbon footprint? Maybe you’ll choose plantings that allow you to get rid of your lawnmower. Perhaps you can do without fertilizer. This article from the National Wildlife Federation gives you 6 options to modify your yard. In addition to the tips given in the article, you need to be aware of regulations provided by your local government.

What You Need To Know About Local Government (City, Town, Village) Landscaping Regulations

1. The Public Right of Way:

  • Find out where the public right of way is in your yard and what landscaping is allowed in that public right of way. In the Town of Brighton, call the Highway Department at 784-5280 to get this information.
  • Be prepared to learn that the public right of way might extend 20 feet or more into your yard. The extent of the right of way depends on many factors including the width of your street, when your street and utility lines were built, and if your road is straight, curved, or on a corner.
  • Landscaping regulations within the public right of way are meant to protect the underground utility lines and provide easy access for local government to make repairs.
    Some plantings and landscape features may not be allowed in the public right of way at all.
  • Trees and shrubs that have long roots are often unacceptable in the public right of way because they could cause breakage of utility lines embedded underground. Also, large boulders may be too big for local governments to move if they need to dig to repair underground utility lines.
  • You may need a permit from your local government for any landscaping in the public right of way.

2. Visibility of Vehicles and Pedestrians at Driveway/Street Intersections:

  • Most local governments regulate landscaping on private property to ensure good sight distance for drivers and pedestrians when vehicles are moving between private driveways and public roads. Check with your local government (in Brighton, the Highway Department) to see what you need to do to ensure good visibility to keep people safe.
  • In the Town of Brighton, vegetation within the public right of way and areas critical to good sight distance cannot be any taller than 30 inches. The height limit varies by local government.

3. Does That Tree in your Front Yard Belong to You or to the Local Government?

  • Many local governments, including the Town of Brighton, have ordinances meant to protect trees.
  • In the case of the Town of Brighton, most trees within the public right-of-way belong to the Town of Brighton, not to the homeowner. Those trees cannot be cut down by the homeowner.
  • Trees within the public right-of-way and taller than 30 inches in height must be trimmed so that branches and foliage are removed to a height of six feet above grade so that clear vision is maintained. You should check with your local government regarding responsibilities for maintaining trees within the public right of way.
  • If you are thinking of planting a tree in the front yard, you should contact your local government. They can determine if the location is within the public right of way, or a critical vision area and if it is allowed.

Don’t hesitate to call your local government to ask for their assistance in providing information you need to reduce your carbon footprint.