Front Yard Regulations in Portland

Blue%20Yard.jpg

Dieselboi posed a question to the blogger gang yesterday stemming from an article on CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/07/24/veggie.patch.ap/index.html. It seems that there’s a growing trend nationwide of people yanking up their lawns and growing “Victory Gardens.” People like the fact that they can grow their own food, and are becoming more concerned with the environmental and philosophical issues of resources wasted on lawns. There have unfortunately been some problems that came from neighbor complaints resulting in code violations.

In SE Portland many of the residents have front yard gardens and chickens mixed in with the usual rose bushes and hydrangeas. I’ve seen a lot of cob and recycled materials used for structures located in the front of homes, and odds and ends including bathtubs used for garden beds. The question is are there any regulations or laws in Portland defining what you can do with your front yard. In Sacramento gardeners fought the city’s landscaping code that stated gardens could take up no more than 30% of the front yard. I know as far as animals go you can have three hens, one goat, but no roosters within the city. From what I’ve seen around town it seems like things are pretty loose. On the other hand places like Lake Oswego have very strict rules, especially regarding yard signs.

The picture above would be a good example of Portland’s laissez-faire attitude towards front yards. I’ve been watching this “installation” take shape over the past few months, and have decided it’s some sort of tweeker Seaworld. It’s over on SE 84th and Flavel. They just recently added the paint, and are working on a water feature and something that resembles a dolphin tank. Does anyone have any information about regulations in the Portland Metro area? I like the idea of having an herb garden replace the grass that I hate mowing and gets ugly in the summer.

5 Comments so far

  1. martin (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    I think you mean pygmy goats, but tell me if I’m wrong because I’d love to upgrade.
    From Portland Online:
    “E. A person keeping a total of three or fewer chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats or rabbits shall not be required to obtain a specified animal facility permit. If the Director determines that the keeper is allowing such animals to roam at large, or is not keeping such animals in a clean and sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances, then the person shall be required to apply for a facility permit to keep such animals at the site.”


  2. martin (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 10:52 am

    Also, I don’t think there’s a Sacramento-style law governing the percentage of your lawn that can be dedicated to food production. At least, not that I can find online. If your neighbor was really being a dick about it, I suppose they could call Vector Control on you regarding rat harborage, but I have a feeling they’d get laughed at unless your raspberry bushes were bigger than your house.


  3. RedMolly (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

    It looks like as long as you’re not stacking old tires in your yard or letting the weeds grow up past your windows, you’re pretty much good to go as far as Portland municipal code.

    We’re currently solarizing our front yard and taking the lawn out entirely, so I’ll have the chance to find out first-hand if there’s really some percentage-of-grass code we’ll be violating.

    (And I think we really need a pygmy goat to give our landscape that certain special something. Goat turds?)


  4. Coyote (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

    “…the city’s landscaping code that stated gardens could take up no more than 30% of the front yard.”

    That has got to be one of the most idiotic laws I’ve ever heard of.

    I often wonder what the deal is with Laurelhurst when I walk through that neighborhood. Everyone’s yard looks exactly the same, all the useless lawns and hedges perfectly coiffed by the best illegal aliens money can buy. And not a vegetable garden in sight. Do they have neighborhood association brown shirts that enforce this sort of thing, or is this just the pernicious influence of peer conformity at work?


  5. Goats,eh? (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

    The way I read the ord. is that I can have an aggregate of 18 animals. Just kidding. I know that isn’t realistic, but we’re not here for realism, are we?

    Muscovy ducks are awesome. Big with great personalities and they make no noise. They’ll keep your garden looking tidy as a golf course; weedless, slugless, and trim.

    Power to the urban farmer! Good luck, folks. And If you have kids, I can’t urge you enough to have at least a couple chooks. You’ll have tons of fun times.

    Cheers.



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