Council Approval: Do I Need It for My Landscaping Project?

August 10, 2022

Have you seen a beautiful landscaping project in your neighbourhood that suddenly stopped because of failure to abide by the rules? If you don’t want that to happen to you, make sure you find out whether your landscaping project needs council approval before you start. Remember, you’re not the only one who’s going to be affected by the changes you are making, and that’s why your project may need approval first.

Is Council Approval Always Required in Landscaping Projects?

The answer is no. Also known as Exempt Development, minor works can be completed without approval. However, you must ensure that what you do falls within the official planning guidelines of your state. So, look up your local environmental planning policy before starting.

Minor works that are exempted from council approval include garden edging, retaining walls under 600 mm, and installation of softscapes (plants, mulch, soil, and turf).

What Approval is Needed for a Landscaping Project?

If your outdoor upgrade involves building structures that include a roof cover or exceeds building works parameters, then Development Approval and Building Approval are required. These approvals come from two departments within your local council. While both may sometimes be necessary, there are times when only one type of approval or permit is needed.

What is DA Approval?

Development approval (also known as planning approval) is focused on how your project will impact the surrounding environment (your neighbours) and its amenities. Since it is also typically a prerequisite for building permits, it is the first permit you need to acquire. You will have to wait between 60-90 calendar days for DA approvals.


What is a Building Permit?

Building approvals or permits provide you with certification that your project complies with applicable building legislation and codes. It also ensures that your structure will be built correctly. It is written approval from your local council or a private building surveyor. It may include approved plans, specifications, and relevant documentation on how the project will proceed.

The building permit process also includes inspections at critical stages of the installation or construction. A final inspection will be conducted upon completion of the project. Remember that although you can perform some renovations without council approval, it doesn’t mean a building permit isn’t required.

Landscape Plans for Council Approval

Not sure which landscaping project requires approval? We’ve put together a list of some landscaping projects that need council approval so you can better understand what you need to do if your project falls under our list.


Small decks may not require approval. But if you’re unsure, it’s still best to consult your local council. There are also many types of decks, most of them including a structural subfloor to bear the weight. It means a building approval may be required but not a planning approval. 

Then again, if you are going to lay timber slats directly on concrete slabs, a building permit won’t be required since you won’t need to construct a supportive structure.


Pergolas are popular landscape additions that help elevate your outdoor space while creating a beautiful, semi-shaded structure that supports plant growth. Depending on the size of your pergola, you may need planning and building approvals. However, you won’t need building approval if:

  • Your pergola is not higher than 3.6 metres
  • Your pergola is not wider than 20 square metres
  • It falls within the sitting requirements specified in the Building Regulations 2018


Verandahs are roofed, open-air structures that are attached to your home. Since it requires construction, you will typically need a building permit. A planning permit may also be required.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls provide versatility and flexibility to your landscaping design. The approval rules vary; however, you will need building and planning approval if:

  • Your retaining wall’s height is one metre or higher.
  • Your retaining wall is built on or near boundaries where the risk of damage to your neighbour’s property is possible.

Pavers and Driveways

Pavers are beautiful additions to your home’s exterior design. Meanwhile, adding a new driveway is a simple way to elevate your outdoor aesthetics. These projects do not require building approval. However, you may need planning approval to get started.


Most gazebos require planning and building approvals since they are usually free-standing with an overhead roof. However, permits are not required if the gazebo is not higher than three metres and has less than 10 square metres of floor space.

What Happens if My Landscaping Project isn’t Council-Approved?

The lines may get blurred from council to council. As such, landscape designers often push the limits of what can be allowed to maximise a client’s property. However, doing so may result in council dissatisfaction. 

It is why hiring the right landscape designers in Perth who have a good understanding of the rules is crucial. After all, what good is a great design if it’s going to get rejected anyway?

What if My Plan Gets Rejected and I Do It Anyway?

Safety is the top reason for building approvals. If you proceed with a rejected plan, you will face plenty of risks that are just not worth it. For instance, council approval involves structural certification. If your proposed project fails and you build it anyway, you risk your family’s safety. So, prioritising safety over your desire to stick to your plan would be best.
If you also plan on selling your property in the future, landscaping projects that aren’t council-approved may cause you to have difficulties in selling your property.


Work with a Professional Landscaping Company

If you want to ensure your landscaping project gets approved, work with Green Oasis Landscaping today. As a well-known landscape company passionate about bringing your dream garden to life, we work hard to bring out the best of every property. We have seasoned professionals who can execute your projects for residential and commercial clients, no matter the size.

With over 40 years of combined experience, we come up with client-focused designs that are sure to pass council approvals. Work with us to make your landscaping easy. Contact us today to discuss how we can achieve your dream landscape.

Bring nature in your home.

We don’t cut corners to maximize our profit.
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