Interest in backyard farming has grown in recent years. Some homebuyers aren’t just interested in a few planters—they are asking about chicken coops, rainwater collection, composting, and selling crops. Know where to direct curious clients.

Don’t Have a Cow (or Maybe You Can)

Your city’s land development code will tell you the rules that govern animals on residential properties. What’s allowed can vary widely by city or other jurisdiction, so clients interested in urban farming activities should be sure to check first. It may be legal to keep a cow in one city and not in another, even though the properties are identical.

Many cities allow homeowners to keep smaller animals, such as chickens or rabbits, with only a few restrictions. Bee colonies are often permitted, too. Larger animals require more elbow room; your clients’ properties may not have enough space to legally house them.

Would-be urban farmers also should check homeowners association rules and other entities that govern uses on a property.

Save for a Rainy Day

Rainwater collection is a great way to conserve resources. Texas doesn’t charge state sales tax on rainwater harvesting equipment and supplies. Check to see if your city, county, or local utility offers incentives for installing systems. Homeowners can treat and drink rainwater or use it to irrigate their backyard gardens. As with other activities, rules may apply to placement or size of rainwater-collection equipment.

Get the Dirt

Composting keeps biodegradable food waste out of the garbage. Your city may pick up compostable materials as part of its waste management services.

Homeowners generally can compost their own yard trimmings and vegetable waste without a permit but would likely need permits to compost meat, fish, dairy, oils and greases, and disposable diapers, among other items.

Bring to Market

Homeowners who want to sell their homegrown goods from a farm stand on their property or directly out of their home should look at local rules regarding onsite businesses, such as parking, signage and sales to the public.

Keep in mind when receiving questions about urban farming that you can reduce your risk by pointing clients to the entities that regulate these activities rather than providing an opinion in an area in which you are not an expert.