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Self-sufficiency with fresh vegetables: what do owners and tenants in Germany need to know about garden rules?

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The weather is great and you want to utilize all the space on the balcony and in the garden. With corona still in the air, gardening has been a great outlet for a lot of people in Germany who have access to a garden. As an Expat, can you also have a garden or plant some vegetacles on the balcony and grow fruit and vegetables? Find out what is the garden rules in Germany are.

Homeowners in Germany have a lot of freedom when designing their garden. For example, they can plow the lawn to the potato field and the creation of beds or raised beds is also possible without any problems. But they too have to adhere to certain garden rules and regulations on their property, which differ depending on the state and municipality.

Green areas in German municipalities

In Germany, there a lot of municipalities with development plans that contain specifications for the garden design, partly in the form of so-called green areas which offer garden rules.

The green area can also prescribe the maintenance of an existing planting. Then hobby gardeners are not allowed to simply remove lawns or bushes in order to grow vegetables there. In extreme cases, it may even be stipulated on which areas you have to plant lawns and where trees should be. 

The development plan is available from the respective building authority – it is often even available online. Tenants of a single-family home who are allowed to use the associated garden must also adhere to this regulation. 

Important: If tenants want to remove existing plants, for example to make space for a bed, they also need the consent of the landlord.

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garden rules

Keep your distance from trees

Anyone who has decided to plant apple, cherry and pear trees in the garden must pay attention to the right choice of space. 

In some federal states there are so-called neighborhood laws. They contain guidelines on how close trees, bushes and hedges can be planted to the property line.

In Bavaria, for example, trees over two meters high have a minimum distance of two meters from the neighboring property. Smaller plants such as bushes or hedges under two meters in height have to be half a meter away.

Here, however, the regulation is not in a neighborhood law, but in the Bavarian implementation law for the German Civil Code (AGBGB). Incidentally, garden owners measure the distance in trees from the point of the trunk which is closest to the border. However, you should always choose the distance to the border a little larger, because trees grow and can no longer be easily moved later.

Building regulations for the greenhouse

garden rules

If you want to set up an entire greenhouse, you have to adhere to the current building regulations of the federal state. “

Depending on the state and size of the greenhouse, however, a building permit is not absolutely necessary. In Bavaria, for example, garden owners can set up greenhouses with a volume of up to 75 cubic meters without a permit – but not in the so-called outside area of ​​the municipality. In Lower Saxony it is 40 cubic meters.

But be careful: local communities can have their own regulations for this. Even in the case of a building that does not require a permit, for example, the specifications of the development plan must still be adhered to and, where possible, spacing rules must be observed. For hobby gardeners, the following applies: inform yourself thoroughly in advance!

What about plants on the balcony?

garden rules

Apartment owners in multi-family houses must adhere to the declaration of division of the community of owners or the house rules. These can also regulate the planting of the balcony. 

Tenants must observe the regulations in the rental agreement and the associated house rules. Anyone who is allowed to install flower boxes can assume that they are also allowed to plant tomatoes, strawberries, herbs or lettuce.” If major changes are planned that are visually conspicuous or affect the building fabric, tenants should clarify these with the landlord in advance.

Rules in the community garden

If there is a community garden that is equally available to all residents, the following garden rules apply:

  • show consideration for the other tenants. In order to avoid arguments with other tenants, you should coordinate with each other.
  • It is not allowed to demarcate part of the community garden, for example to create a bed there. Because then this area would no longer be accessible to the other tenants.

I want chickens in the garden. Can I have them?

garden rules

If you not only want to harvest your own lettuce, but also want to collect fresh eggs, you might be planning a chicken coop in the garden. Such a construction must be clarified with the responsible building authority.

Smaller stables may be possible without a permit. A building permit may be required for larger enclosures. For both, the community’s development plan must be observed. Whether a stall is allowed often depends on the area. In residential areas there are different requirements than in mixed or village areas.

With the latter, the chances are best, as the development should usually adapt to the peculiarities of the surrounding area. Tenants should also take a look at their lease, which regulates the keeping of animals. The last thing to do is to go to the veterinary office. Because hobby farmers have to register every chicken there and register it with the animal disease fund. In addition, there is a regular vaccination requirement.

However, it is recommended to make an arrangement with the neighbors in advance – not everyone finds the rooster crowing early in the morning as romantic. Especially in residential areas, the threshold of what the neighbor has to put up with in terms of non-local noise emissions is quickly exceeded. Once all of this has been clarified, nothing should stand in the way of fresh breakfast eggs from the garden.

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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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