Landscaping activities encompass a wide range of practices and projects aimed at enhancing the aesthetic appeal and functionality of outdoor spaces such as residential and commercial properties, government and public institutions, parks, entertainment areas and public spaces among others. Landscaping activities include garden design and installation, tree planting and maintenance, lawn care and maintenance, hardscaping, perimeter fences, irrigation systems, erosion control, landscape lighting and roof gardens and green walls.
The importance of landscaping activities
a. Aesthetic enhancement
Landscaping transforms outdoor spaces, elevating their visual appeal and creating a positive ambiance. Well-designed landscapes improve quality of life and well-being, reduce stress, and foster a sense of community. They also elevate property values and attract residents, visitors, and investors. By connecting people with nature, these landscapes enrich the overall quality of life and contribute to cultural enrichment in urban and rural settings.
b. Property Value
Well-maintained and beautifully landscaped properties yield substantial returns, as landscaping enhances curb appeal, attracts buyers, and increases market value. A well-designed landscape, incorporating elements like gardens, patios, and water features, can evoke an emotional connection, influencing buyers’ decisions and justifying higher selling prices. As a result, landscaping becomes a strategic investment, for property owners in the competitive real estate market.
c. Environmental conversation
Landscaping actively contributes to environmental conservation by prioritizing native plant species for biodiversity, soil conversation and creating green spaces. Additionally, eco-friendly practices like rainwater harvesting and efficient irrigation promote sustainable water usage. These combined efforts aid in preserving natural ecosystems and contributing to a sustainable and ecologically conscious society.
d. Enhances sustainable practices
Landscaping promotes sustainable practices through the use of native plants for reduced water consumption, the adoption of organic gardening for healthier soil and decreased chemical reliance, and the implementation of efficient irrigation systems. These holistic approaches safeguard ecosystems, foster responsible land management, and align with water conservation goals thus fostering a healthier environment.
e. Erosion Control
Erosion control in landscaping is achieved through strategic methods like planting vegetation and installing retaining walls. For instance, plantations prevent erosion and absorb excess water while retaining walls are effective in halting soil movement on slopes. These measures maintain soil fertility, prevent sediment runoff, and safeguard landscapes from degradation, contributing to both environmental stability and aesthetic preservation.
What are some of the laws governing landscaping activities in Kenya?
a. The Physical and Land Use Planning Act, 2019
Landscaping activities in Kenya are subject to a number of regulations under the Physical and Land Use Planning Act, 2019. For example, landscaping services providers must comply with any relevant environmental regulations and obtain any necessary permits or approvals from the relevant authorities. Further, any development that involves landscaping must be carried out in accordance with the relevant development plan.
b. The Environmental Management and Coordination Act, 1999 (EMCA)
The EMCA requires that any person undertaking landscaping activities should do so in a manner that minimizes environmental degradation such as adoption of sustainable practices, proper waste management and avoidance of the use of harmful chemicals. Further, the Act establishes the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, which requires developers of projects, including landscaping projects, to assess and manage any potential environmental impacts.
c. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2007
Workers in the landscaping industry are often exposed to various physical and chemical hazards that can lead to injuries or illnesses. Therefore, a landscaping company is required to comply with the provisions of the Act and ensure that its employees have a safe working environment, train its workers on the hazards they are exposed to while at work and provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, respirators, and safety glasses while at work.
d. The Plant Protection Act and The Seeds and Plant Varieties Act
These two Acts may impact the types of plants and seeds that can be used in landscaping projects. For example, KEPHIS requires that all imported plants and plant products undergo inspection and testing to ensure that they are free from pests and diseases before they are allowed into the country. Landscapers are required to obtain a Plant Import Permit (PIP) from KEPHIS prior to shipment of such plants or seedlings from their origin.
e. The Water Act, 2016
Companies and individuals that provide landscaping services are required to adhere to the provisions of the Act, by promoting sustainable water management practices and protecting water resources. Landscaping activities should not interfere with the natural flow of water or cause pollution or degradation of water sources.
In conclusion, landscaping activities hold a multifaceted significance, ranging from aesthetic improvement and property value enhancement to environmental conservation and sustainable practices. The legal framework on landscaping underscores the importance of responsible and environmentally conscious landscaping practices that ensure a harmonious balance between human development and the preservation of natural ecosystems.
Written by Cynthia Kitolo
Legal Officer & Advocate of the High Court of Kenya