When Porches Go Bad

In June 2003, porches at an otherwise peaceful party collapsed in Chicago and drew nationwide attention. Almost 60 people were injured, and 12 people died when overflowing porches sandwiched onto each other when the uppermost structure gave way [source: CNN]. Cities have zoning laws about how many people should be on porches for a reason. Use caution when planning a summer barbeque.

Urban Landscape Design Restrictions

Before starting an urban landscape design project, you will need to examine the restrictions imposed by state and local governments, as well as project owners. Restrictions and ordinances detail the rules of implementation, and to what degree changes can be made at a particular site. Water is a big issue, and many architectural plans have restrictions related to water usage, aquatic vegetation, sand or beaches, erosion control, boat ramps and terrestrial vegetation. There are also rules about distance to water sources and how land around a body of water can be used or changed [source: Charboneau].

Another aspect of landscape design is element restrictions. Element restrictions identify the type of plants, trees, shrubs, soil, turf and grass that should be used in a specific locale. Some locations will require the use of only native species, while others will require use of only low-water plants, shrubs and trees.

Once you get past the state regulations, you need to check out zoning laws. Local zoning regulations dictate how a design can be implemented. Though zoning rules will be different for every state, some of the regulations you might face are:

  • Erosion control
  • Fence placement, maintenance, materials, and height
  • Fertilizer (phosphorus) application and use
  • Location and property line
  • Drainage for storm water
  • Wood structures and decking
  • Irrigation
  • Retaining walls, or riprap
  • Structure removal [source: Elsen]

Restrictions can be a pain, but they're in place to ensure sustainable and safe urban landscape design. Protecting natural resources, helping to ensure public safety and usability, as well as regulating erection and deconstruction of buildings and structures helps create better living conditions for the present and the future.

Still with us? Don't be intimidated. Once you get past the regulations, urban landscape design can be extremely rewarding. Read on to start planning.