Sage Creek is home to over 10 wetlands with more to come in future phases. Properties that back onto a wetland either border a public reserve with a trail running along to the wetland, or have a property line that borders the normal water level in the wetland. The latter properties have what’s called a vegetation easement. The 42′ from the rear property line belong to the homeowner, but there is a registered caveat on the area by the City of Winnipeg which stipulates homeowners must maintain the area.
Homeowners are allowed to do limited landscaping within the easement area to access the wetland and/or enhance their rear yard. There are some very important things homeowners should know before planning any landscaping within the easement area:
- No digging. The infrastructure of the wetland (or storm water retention basin, “SRB”) begins at the easement line. Digging into the ground may impact the integrity of the SRB and also removes the native grasses, violating the terms of the caveat.
- No chemicals. Native grasses may be mowed to accommodate a pathway or patio, but no chemicals or herbicides may be used to remove or manage the native grasses. These chemicals flow down into the wetland, impacting the water quality and overall environment.
- No more than 8 feet wide. For every one foot into the easement a homeowner landscapes, the average width must not exceed eight feet.
So what can be done? With the use of stone, rocks, and/or gravel, homeowners may create paths and patios in keeping with the natural look and purpose of the easement area surrounding the wetland. Minor changes to grade to level an area can occur through the use of building up with stone or gravel.
Qualico Communities is working with homeowners who have begun landscaping to ensure their designs and construction comply with the City of Winnipeg caveat. We are also working on providing more information to easement property homeowners both by mail and online at sagecreek.ca. Some information is already available online:
Maintenance: Caring for Native Grasses on Your Property PDF
General Information: Native Grasses and Wetlands in Your Neighbourhood PDF