Land Clearing and Landscaping

County Code

  • Commercial and Subdivision requirements are found in section 4.01.05 and section 6.06 and are outlined in Section 13 of the Development Review Manual.
  • Single Family Residential requirements are found in section 4.01.05 and are outlined in Section 17 of the Development Review Manual.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit to clear land in St. Johns County?

Any type of land disturbance activities involving vegetation removal, root raking or under brushing may need a permit from the county prior to starting. The issues involved in the review of the activity include proposed changes in drainage patterns, identification and protection of protected species, erosion and sedimentation control measures.

Can I clear my lot to build a home?

Lot clearing for residential home sites is permitted through the clearance sheet process. Clearance sheet application information can be found in section 17 of the St. Johns County Development Review Manual.

What is the minimum tree cover or planting requirements on my lot when I build my home?

To maximize the retention of trees, a valuable natural resource of the community, it should be the lot owner’s goal to use existing trees to meet this requirement, however the minimum can be met by planting additional trees. A tally of 40 tree inches per acre must be preserved or planted on a lot. For example, if a lot is .25 acres, 10 inches of trees must remain on the lot. To get the inch value of any existing tree, measure its diameter at 4.5 feet from ground level. To get the diameter, measure the circumference of the trunk or add together multi-trunked trees and divide by 3.14. For planted tree size, measure the diameter of the trunk or add together multi-trunked trees at 6 inches above the ground. For tree plantings, at least 70% must be a "canopy type" and no more than half of the total can be the same species. Also, at least half must be native species. Trees located within wetland areas or invasive trees cannot be used for credit value. Typical canopy trees include Live Oak, Red Maple, Hickory, Red Cedar, Cypress, Slash or Longleaf Pine and Magnolia.

Tree removal on lots less than one acre with an existing home do not require a tree removal permit, as long as the tree does not lie within a conservation area or buffer or is a specimen tree.

Residential lots that fall under the Ponte Vedra zoning ordinance 20-38 shall require a tree removal permit, approved by SJC Environmental staff, to remove any protected trees.

Does the County have rules pertaining to irrigation?

The County has rules designed to ensure the efficient use of water for use in landscaping irrigation. All new development projects shall follow Florida-Friendly landscaping principles at least half of planted species are to be native to the area and designate at least half of their landscape irrigated area to be watered with low volume irrigation. Low volume irrigation limits the delivery of water to the root zone and consists of micro, bubbler, drip, trickle and soaker systems. For more information, please reference Article VI of the Land Development Code. Requirements are for Commercial and New Residential Common Areas only and a building permit may be required for all irrigation systems.


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