Landscape permitting can be a complicated process. Thankfully a good landscape contractor can make this process quicker, easier, and less expensive. If you’re considering hiring a landscape contractor, have a conversation with them about permitting. Make sure you’re clear about who is responsible for permitting. Good landscapers will happily complete this process for you and provide awareness of the following aspects.
Landscape permitting can be a unique, and creative process. All properties have characteristics unique to themselves, and these characteristics can cause the permit review process to take longer than expected. For example, properties on Lake Winnipesaukee, or in the Lake Wentworth watershed, may involve different local, state, and even federal permitting agencies to be involved. Meanwhile, property in downtown Laconia may require less review. Practice patience to accommodate your unique property and its features.
Be Prepared to Make Changes
Do you love the idea of a large patio on the lake? You may need to change your materials from stone to permeable pavers, or you may need to reduce the size of the patio. Are you in love with the idea of a specific flower in your garden? That flower may not be able to survive in our climate zone or native soils.
As the permit process develops, changes in the landscape plan may be required. Specific conditions on your property, including climate, soil Ph, sun exposure, and wildlife, will play a significant role in your landscape plan. A well-practiced landscape contractor will know how to navigate these challenges to help you find a solution you’ll love, and still comply with permitting rules.
Beware of Invasive Species
The introduction of new plants into a landscape can be an eye-catching and essential aspect of your design. Unfortunately, not all plants can or should be added to your property. Invasive species plants, for example, are non-native plants that can propagate beyond your landscape, and compete with native plants. These species place strain on the environment, and once introduced, they can be a challenge to remove.
Your landscape contractor should be well-versed I invasive plants and able to offer you varied alternatives.
Find out more on invasive species.
Size Matters, Sometimes
Smaller square footage projects can move through the planning and permitting process faster, however, this is not always the case. The complexity of design and impact on the environment are significant influencers on time required for planning and permitting. For example, installing sod and a dozen trees on a nearly level two-acre property several miles inland from a water body is a fairly straightforward wetland permit application. It will likely take less time than, for example, a 300 square-foot patio that features a 20’ natural stone retaining wall, landscape lighting, and a built-in outdoor kitchen on a lakeshore. The property example on the lake requires planning for the installation of electric and gas features, and will take longer to be fully permitted for a key reason. In this instance, the Department of Environmental Services, the local town agencies, and perhaps even the Army Corps of Engineers may need to issue a permit.
Consider the Environment
An educated landscape contractor will fully understand how changes to your property can affect the surrounding area. An ethical landscape contractor will work with you to create a landscape which both creates the space you desire, and also minimizes the impact that space has on the environment. Finally, an effective landscape contractor will work with you to educate you on the importance of these factors and find solutions that work.
For example, having a lush green lawn that traverses your property up to your shoreline may be your preference, but that may not be your best option. Maintaining turf can require ongoing fertilization and irrigation. These practices can create runoff, which will shuttle chemicals into the lake. These chemicals can and likely would harm the lake’s health.
Which would you rather have: a beautiful lawn or a beautiful lake? Thankfully there are laws and regulations regarding how close chemicals can be applied to the shorefront. As a result, many times, a lawn isn’t as viable a choice as other plant life right at the shore.
Permitting is a Requirement
Too often, we see property renovations in ways that are contrary to the laws and regulations of New Hampshire. Often in these cases, the homeowner is either unaware that the permitting process is required, being avoided, or, worse, they encourage this behavior to get their desired outcome.
Eventually, both of these behaviors will cause a problem. Non-permitted work, when discovered, will be required to be brought into compliance. As a result, further expense is placed upon the property owner. This, paired with any citations, can prove to become a significant financial burden. In these instances, the final result may be more expensive, less functional, and lacking in aesthetic desirability. Following the proper permitting process can help avoid this and create the best outcome for your landscape. An early compromise is better than the later forced solution.
Before You Buy, Research
Landscapes that are in permit violation, poorly constructed, or contain invasive species, become the burden of the property owner. When you are purchasing a home, do your research to ensure you will not inherit these complications.
Local municipalities can assist you to be sure all recent work on the property was correctly permitted. A home inspector can help you diagnose some potential issues. A good landscape contractor can review the property for invasive species and acceptable construction on landscape features.
Inspecting the land as well as the building before you buy is important and can save you problems and expense down the road.