I was leery about exerting effort to contact the state to figure out where the underground utilities are around the house especially since, as a member of the instant-gratification generation, I’m kinda lazy about doing things that don’t instantly gratify me (crazy, huh). However, I am also a member of the TV generation, and remember seeing a commercial years ago warning me of the dangers of digging without knowing what is under the yard, so I ended up calling the Gopher State Dig Line. It’s basically no work at all. You call in, give them the relevant information, and the utility companies have 48 hours to go mark up your lawn to show you where the surprises are.
Yesterday I saw a post by the New York Botanical Garden of a $2,500 fine for a chard plot because of zoning issues, so I figured I should probably check out Saint Paul’s zoning laws. This page is the list of Saint Paul gardening policies that the city thinks we should know about. Relevant to my little project: Saint Paul Residential Composting Rules and Saint Paul Boulevard Planting Rules. Also, the Sustainable Urban Landscaping Information Series (SULIS) of the University of MN has an article relevant to local zoning restrictions for urban gardening. Notably, if you disrupt more than 500 square feet of topsoil, you need to get a permit.
I’m really excited that Saint Paul allows planting on the city-owned grass between the sidewalk on the street (boulevard). The major requirement is that the height of the plants can’t be more than 36 inches, but only 12 inches when you’re within:
- 5 feet of the curb (or within 10 feet of the curb if that portion of the street has any parking restrictions).
- 5 feet of a public utility
- 20 feet of an alley or driveway approach
- 30 feet from an intersection (as measured from the property line- does anyone know what that means?)
There are also a few other requirements:
- No herbicides, pesticides, and/or fertilizers
- Documentation that you called the Dig Line
- No noxious weeds (duh)
- Your plants can’t interfere with the sidewalk, curb, or street area
Found this link for boulevard gardening recommendations and this boulevard gardening PDF created by the Sustainable Resources Center. Also UMN’s SULIS from above has this article on planting under existing trees, and the second half of the article focuses on boulevard planting. I love that they drew up Figure 1(a), btw. I think the boulevard will be a perfect place for a melon patch.
For those people not in the Twin Cities (do they even exist?!), Grown in the City has an interactive zoning map you can click on to see your local zoning regs.