Before planting in an OWASA easement

For background information, please go to What are easements and why do we clear them?

Before you do plantings or other landscaping work in an OWASA easement, please contact us at 919-968-4421 or for information about preparing a plan showing the location and types of plants. We will need to approve a planting plan before the landscaping is done. 

Please be aware that:

  • We may need to do maintenance and improvements and to clear part or all of an easement even if a planting plan is approved.
  • We do not replace plantings or other improvements in an easement if we damage them.
  • Therefore, it is prudent not to do expensive plantings or to make permanent improvements in an easement.

What kinds of plants may be suitable in the outer part of an easement?

We normally clear only about 20 feet of a 30-foot-wide easement. Therefore, in many places, plantings can be suitable in the outer five feet on each side of an easement.

The trees, shrubs and groundcovers that are suitable in the outer part of an easement are typically:

  • shallow-rooted,  
  • drought-resistant,
  • native/non-invasive, and        
  • inexpensive.

Examples of plants that may be suitable in water and sewer easements

Planting plans shall include plants consistent with those listed below, but OWASA may approve variances.


  • Bayberry
  • Baccharis
  • Beauty Berry
  • Button Bush
  • Downy Arrowhead
  • Silky Dogwood
  • Smooth Sumac
  • Sweet Shrub
  • Wild Indigo


  • Dogwood
  • Redbud
  • Red Buckeye
  • Red Cedar
  • Toothache Tree

What are invasive plants?

Invasive plants are often imported plants which grow aggressively and may crowd out native plants. The kudzu vine is an example of an invasive plant.

It is in everyone’s interest to avoid introducing and spreading invasive plants.

For more information, please contact the North Carolina Botanical Garden staff at 962-0522 or visit the Garden’s website,

Are gates allowed on easements?

In some locations, we allow gates across sewer easements.  So that we will have safe access when needed, a gate must be:

  • easy to open,
  • at least 12 feet wide, and
  • centered in the easement.

If you are interested in installing a gate on an OWASA easement, please call us at 968-4421 and ask for our Wastewater Collection and Water Distribution Systems staff before having the gate installed. 

Please note that if we damage a gate or other improvements or plantings during an emergency repair or other work on our easement, we are not responsible for repairing the gate.

Are fences allowed on easements?

We normally do not allow fences on our easements because they can affect our access, especially in an emergency, and may be damaged during our work. It is better to simply install a fence outside of easements.