Toronto Yard and Fence Bylaws

Some Bylaws To Know For Toronto Home Owners

The City of Toronto has many bylaws for home owners to be aware of and the following link is a great reference:

Toronto Property Standards – Bylaws

With that said, in this blog I will highlight just couple that are relevant in respect to some previous posts, mainly those on lawns and fences.

What Are The Standards For Grass, Weeds And Gardens?

Municipal Code Chapter 489, Grass and Weeds and Chapter 743, Streets and Sidewalks outlines standards regarding grass, weeds and vegetation on private property, streets and sidewalks. These are standards for properties in Toronto and include standards for any gardens on the public portions of a property. The occupant of private land is required to cut the grass and weeds on their land whenever the growth of grass and weeds exceeds 20 cm (8”) in height.

This includes vegetation that is not part of a natural garden that has been deliberately implemented, including species of wildflowers, shrubs, perennials, grasses, consistent with a managed and natural landscape other than regularly mown grass. 

What Happens If A Property Doesn’t Meet City Standards?

If a complaint is received by the city, a letter is sent out to the owner of the property quoting the bylaws and the requirements for maintenance with a 14 day deadline.  If the owner does not comply after the notice expires, the City will do the required work on the property and the costs and administration fees of the work may be added to the property taxes.

What Is A “Natural Garden”?

A natural garden is designed to have environmental benefits and create a habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. It is managed within a certain boundary and may contain both native and non-native plants. This is very different from  neglected properties where all vegetation runs a muck, a natural garden will not contain overgrown plants or weeds.

If a property is considered a “natural garden”, it is exempt from some Municipal Code standards. However, a permit must be obtained before you can install this type of garden.  Perhaps in a later post we will outline how to create a garden like this and all the steps before and after.

Fence Standards

Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 447 – Fences, provides standards for fences in Toronto. It defines a fence as a barrier or any structure (except a structural part of a building) that:

  • wholly or partially screens from view or encloses a property.
  • marks the boundary between properties or adjoining land.
  • provides noise reduction.

Hedges or shrubs can be considered as fences if it has one of the above noted effects.

Chapter 447 also includes restrictions on heights and materials. Some of these standards include that:

  • back yard fences can’t be more than 2 metres in height
  • front yard fences can’t be more than 1.2 metres in height
  • any fence within 2.4 metres of any driveway must be an open mesh chain-link fence or an open-view equivalent which does not restrict the view of the boulevard or highway
  • any outdoor swimming pools on private property must be surrounded by a swimming pool enclosure

What Materials Can Be Used For Fencing?

Fences can be constructed of a variety of materials, including a shrub or hedge. Although, there are restrictions on what fences cannot be made of. Residential home fences may not be made of barbed or chicken wire, sharp material, sheet or corrugated metal panels.

How Tall Can A Fence Be?

Description of Fence

Fence on Single or Multiple Residential Property

Fence in front yard within 2.4 metres of front lot line

1.2 metres

Fence in front yard not within 2.4 metres of front lot line

1.2 metres

Fence neighbouring non-residential property

2.5 metres

Fence not in front yard neighbouring public highway or public walkway

2.5 metres

Fence bordering rapid transit right of way

2.5 metres

Any other fence

2.0 metres

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