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How drainage easements can impact your landscaping plans

A look at how drainage easements can impact your landscaping plans.

Spring is nearly here, so of course now is the time when homeowners begin to think about making some changes to their landscaping. However, before you begin planning that new garden or hardscaping layout, it is essential that you know exactly what you have the right to do with your land, and what you don’t.

It’s unfortunate, but many homeowners and home buyers both young and old, don’t know all of the details of their property rights. You might not realize it, but things like cutting down trees, building a planter box around a tree on the boulevard in front of your house, or adding a retaining wall to your garden can all be restricted by the government’s rights on your property.

What is an easement?

Easements are one of those things that can have a major impact on your landscaping plans. An easement is the government’s legal right to use a piece of your land for the purpose of maintaining utilities and systems in your neighbourhood. Drainage easements and utility easements are usually found in urban, suburban, and rural properties across the country, with drainage easements being the most common type.

Drainage easements are necessary to control water runoff and prevent flooding in the neighbourhood. If there is a drainage easement on your property, not only is it your responsibility to ensure that the area is free of debris, and accessible at all times, but the onus is also on you to recognize and abide by any limitations around using that section of your property.


Due to the fact that the drainage easement needs to be accessible at all times, there are certain restrictions in place to ensure its safe accessibility.  This means that things like trees, hardscaping, sheds, and even swing sets or patio furniture should not be placed on this part of your property.

Get to Know Your Property

To ensure that you are free to landscape, add a pool, plant a tree or otherwise renovate your property without fear of infringing upon an easement, do a search for the title certificate at your local land registry office. If there is an easement on your property, you should be able to see it on this certificate.

This is also a matter to discuss with your realtor if you are currently looking for buy a new house. He or she will be able to enquire about any possible easements on your property and explain any details of the easement to you if one is found.

Taking the time to seek out this information before you undertake a big landscaping project will save you time, money, and heartache. Unlawfully building on drainage easements can not only result in your hard work being unceremoniously undone, but in some cases, you can also be sued by the municipality.

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