The Residential Boulevard Gardening Kickstart Program is an opportunity for Edmontonians to add character to their neighbourhoods by beautifying the City’s strip of land between the sidewalk and the road. This program provides Edmontonians with additional City space to create colourful, diverse streetscapes to strengthen community pride, ecological diversity, and build climate resiliency.
To ensure safe and accessible spaces for everyone, the City has developed program requirements that outline the steps for gardening on the City’s boulevard. In other words, you will require a permit—either a Declaration or a Licence of Occupation (LOO).
Before You Get Started
Before you start gardening, you must apply for a permit with the City either through a Declaration or Licence of Occupation, depending on your boulevard garden plan and its impact on the City trees and the road right of way.
Determine which permit applies to your gardening project:
$75 annual fee is temporarily waived for boulevard gardens submitted in 2022 and 2023*.
No application fee.
The City is required to review each application. Turnaround time is dependent on volume and availability. Please refer to the LOO for the specific insurance requirements associated with the application.
*The License of Occupation (LOO) is a pre-existing permit with an attached $75 annual fee. The City will be exploring the possibility of permanently lowering or waiving the LOO fee for boulevard gardens based on demand and accessibility.
This is a quick and easy option for Edmontonians to start gardening on City boulevards. Before applying for a declaration, please familiarize yourself with the boulevard gardening requirements.
Boulevard Gardening Declaration
These requirements apply to a residential boulevard garden and accompany the Declaration. The Licence of Occupation has separate requirements and a separate permit application.
If your boulevard has trees, you must follow the minimum protection distance as specified in the Tree Protection Zone. The gardener is responsible for completing their due diligence, which is not limited to conducting a preliminary site inspection, creating a site plan, notifying neighbours, and determining the minimum protection distance from trees.
“Low-impact digging” is permitted and refers to digging to depths not exceeding 5.1cm (2 inches). Additionally, the gardener is permitted to add 5.1cm (2 inches) of clean, garden mix soil or organic mulch to the existing grade. The combination of digging and addition of clean, garden mix soil or organic mulch must be less than or equal to 10.2cm (4 inches).
Digging deeper than 5.1cm (2 inches) is considered “disruptive digging” and requires the gardener to apply for a Licence of Occupation. Note that the Licence of Occupation has a separate application process. Further, there may be additional requirements for disruptive digging such as contacting Utility Safety Partners before gardening can be started.
Maximum 5.1cm (2 inches) of digging
Digging can only be conducted with a hand trowel (no shovels, grating, rototilling, etc) to ensure minimal impact to our trees and underground utilities.
No motorized equipment is permitted.
Take extra care working on the boulevard, as public trees and utilities share the space.
No garden shall obstruct or partially obstruct sidewalks, pathways, or roadways. Gardening amenities, accessories, and features shall not pose danger or create additional hazards to pedestrians, cyclists, parked vehicles, or City and utility workers.
The edge of the garden and gardening activities must be at least 0.65 m (2ft 2inches) from the edge of any adjacent travel lane, bike lane, and shared pathway or sidewalk.
Gardening shall be located at a minimum distance of 1.5m (5ft) from all fixed objects including fire hydrants, utility boxes, light poles, bus stops, mailboxes, etc.
Gardens must be at least:
5.0 m (16ft 5inches) from the corner of an uncontrolled intersection.
10.0 m (32ft 9 inches) from the corner of a controlled intersection (stop/yield sign or signals) or an intersection with a marked pedestrian crosswalk.
Ensure the garden and all gardening activities comply with the Community Standards Bylaw and the Traffic Bylaw at all times.
*This clause excludes gardens that solely include alternative ground cover and low-growing plants.
The City will not be responsible in any way for any injury to any person or any loss or damage to any property, including any planters, seeding or plants, however caused, belonging to the Gardener or to tenants, or licensees of the Gardener while such person or property which is caused by any activity, conditions, or events arising out of the Boulevard Garden. In no event shall the City be liable to the Gardener for any indirect or consequential damage however caused, including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, whether or not they would otherwise be considered indirect or consequential loss.
The Gardener shall:
be liable to the City for, and indemnify and save harmless the City, its servants, agents and employees from and against any and all losses, liabilities, claims, suits, actions, demands, expenses, damages and costs (and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, including solicitor and client costs) which may be brought or made against the City or which the City may pay or incur and which arise out of or in connection with:
any of the rights or privileges granted to the Gardener pursuant to this Application;
any breach, violation or non-performance of any covenant, condition or guideline related to this Application to be fulfilled, kept, observed or performed by the Gardener;
any damage to any property or injury to a person or persons, including death resulting at any time therefrom, occasioned by the use of the road right of way by the Applicant, its servants, agents, employees or licensees;
any damage to any property or injury to a person or persons, including death resulting at any time therefrom, arising from the escape, discharge or release of any gaseous, liquid, or solid hazardous substances including, but not limited to, petroleum products and byproducts, industrial wastes, contaminants, pollutants, dangerous substances, and toxic substances, as defined in or pursuant to any law, ordinance, rule, regulation, bylaw or code, whether federal, provincial or municipal, occasioned by the use of the road right of way, by the Applicant, its servants, agents, employees or licensees; excepting such losses, liabilities, claims, suits, actions, demands, expenses, damages and costs arising from the sole negligence of the City, its servants, agents or employees.
The City encourages the applicant to obtain $2M General Liability insurance to respond to any bodily injury and/or property damages to the third party. Depending on the circumstances of the use of the shared road right of way (public space) for the purposes of installing and maintaining a residential boulevard gardening (the “Boulevard Garden”) including the risk exposures and mitigations put in place by the applicant, the City may require evidence of insurance. The City recommends contacting your home insurance provider or other insured organization for a similar stand-alone policy to discuss liability coverage as required.
Licence of Occupation
Licence of Occupation
(LOO) is for more ambitious gardening projects. If you’re having trouble determining whether you require an LOO, please ask yourself the following questions:
The City is currently working on updating the Licence of Occupation application form and LOO guidelines for boulevard gardening. In the interim, any LOO applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with this program guide.
*If 5.1cm of soil is added to the existing round surface, then total planting depth allowable is 10.2cm (5.1cm of new soil and 5.1cm into the existing ground).
This licence allows the road right-of-way for commercial or residential purposes, such as parking and storage areas, landscaping and gardening, walls and fences, freestanding business identification signs and artwork.
The Residential Boulevard Gardening Kickstart Program is intended for simple, low-impact boulevard gardening so that your garden can be started quickly and safely. This resource only applies to developed residential boulevards that are maintained by residents or a residential complex. Any gardening or planters on non-residential boulevards are subject to other rules. This program does not apply to residential boulevards that are mowed by the City, currently under construction, or under contract or warranty by a developer or a contractor.
Please note: All boulevards are subject to compliance checks. If the garden is found operating outside the approved plan, the applicant may be subject to enforcement.
The following Residential Boulevard Gardening rules have been developed to help Edmontonians confidently and responsibly garden on the boulevards within the city. All gardeners must understand and adhere to the following rules in addition to the requirements outlined in either the declaration or LOO agreement, whichever one applies to you. Note that these rules apply to all gardeners of the Residential Boulevard Gardening program:
Gardens are permitted on residential boulevards. These are the City-owned grassy spaces between the back sidewalk and the road curb, or where no sidewalk exists, the grassy space between the private property and the road curb.
It is important that the City can contact the gardener if there is planned maintenance work and/or program updates, and gardeners must register their boulevard garden with the City either through a Declaration Form or a Licence of Occupation. Gardeners are responsible for ensuring they provide the City with accurate and current information regarding gardening activities.
Gardening on boulevards adjacent to a multi-unit development will be managed by the condo board or homeowner association. The City of Edmonton will not act as a mediator and encourages all community gardeners to share the public space.
Some of the City’s boulevards contain City trees. It is the responsibility of the gardener to:
Obtain all the required permits before gardening on boulevards with trees. These required permits are not limited to a Licence of Occupation. Depending on the gardener’s proposed plan, additional permits, such as a Public Tree Permit, may be required.
Starting from the minimum setback from the tree, complete a visual site inspection to avoid working on or placing planters on top of tree roots. Do not add more than 5.1cm (2 inches) of clean, garden soil mix or organic mulch to avoid compressing tree roots.
Planters are permitted on the boulevard; however, the gardener must check if they require a declaration or LOO depending on their planter details (setback, coverage area, size, height). After the plans have been outlined, the gardener then must apply for a declaration or a LOO. Refer to the Declaration Requirements to assess how to place your planter. If your planter requirements fall out of the declaration requirements, you will need to apply for a LOO.
All planters must have a base and cannot be built into the ground. They must be easily relocated by a City or utility worker without the use of a mechanical tool, such as a lift.
Please take extra care and attention when gardening on boulevards with trees. Heavy planters can easily compress tree roots and cause irreversible damage and even death.
Negligent gardening is subject to bylaw infractions as per the City’s Tree Protection Bylaw and the Community Standards Bylaw.
Boulevards are active sites where City employees will be maintaining trees and utility companies are working on equipment. Gardening activities and assets cannot interfere with the operations and maintenance activities conducted by these parties. In the event of an emergency or planned maintenance, the City of Edmonton and utilities may disrupt or damage the gardener’s work without notice.
Keep your gardens natural. Pesticides and fertilizers are not permitted on boulevard gardens.
All planters must be removed no later than October 15, 2022.
Your garden must return to turf if you choose to stop gardening or move away.
Boulevard gardens can attract passers-by to stop and pick and are often subject to road contaminants, like salt. The gardener should be aware of the risks with growing food on a boulevard.
The consumption of any edible plants is done so at the gardener's own risk. The City of Edmonton is not responsible for any health, safety, or other risks that may be associated with consuming edible plants grown on a boulevard.
If you are unsure about the quality of your soil, have a soil test done.
Alternatives include keeping your garden to ornamental plants and/or keep your food-producing plants in a planter.
Boulevards are a space where many underground shallow utilities are located. Working on the boulevard requires extra care and attention to not damage utilities and to not put the gardener at risk. Gardeners are strongly encouraged to submit a utility locate request to Utility Safety Partners to determine what utilities may be located in close proximity to their proposed garden. To avoid interference with the shallow, underground utilities, do not dig more than 5.1cm (2 inches). 10.2 cm (4 inches) planting depth is permitted if the maximum 2 inches of soil permitted has been added to the existing ground surface.
Boulevards are in close proximity to travel routes such as roads and sidewalks. It is important to make yourself and others working on the boulevard visible and to only garden during sunlight hours. Your safety and the public’s safety is our first priority.
Watering your boulevard may be challenging. Determine how you will water your garden before you begin. Do not leave hoses, watering cans, buckets and other tools on the sidewalk, boulevard, or road, as they are hazards for pedestrians and traffic.