Revegetation Information

The Town of East Hampton has been a leader in the preservation of open space and has enacted clearing laws on properties, to protect the health of our harbors and bays, to protect our aquifer that is our sole source for our drinking water and to help preserve the rural characteristics of the town. For the homeowner there are five codes within the East Hampton Town Code that define the clearing restrictions or the conditions under which clearing may take place. They are 255-3-60 Water Recharge Overlay District, 255-3-70 Harbor Protection Overlay District, 255-4-20 Natural Resources Special Permit, 255-2-60 Residential District Provisions, and 16-4 Conservation Easements.


  • As applied to the act of clearing: the act of removing trees or any part thereof, brush, or other vegetation and/or groundcover from land, whether by any means, including but not limited to digging, scraping, cutting, brushogging, bulldozing, burning, chemical removal or by any form of mechanical action. As used herein the term "groundcover" shall include naturally occurring understory vegetation (e.g. lowbush blueberry or huckleberry), as well as leaf litter and other detritus.
  • As applied to an area of land: all land which has been altered from its natural state by the removal of trees, brush, or other vegetation and/or groundcover including land which is lawn or from which groundcover has been removed. As used herein the term "natural state" shall mean and refer to the natural condition of land without substantial alteration by human activity.
An uncleared area is an area that is in its natural condition without substantial alteration by human activity. This means all the essential layers are intact.

For example, a natural woodland consists of the soil layer, leaf litter layer, understory, and the trees. All aspects are essential to the health of the woodland. The soil and leaf litter are hosts to countless organisms-bacteria, molds, fungi, tiny insects and other invertebrates. These organisms have evolved side by side for millions of years and all have a role to play in the health of the woods. The trees and understory depend on many of these organisms to thrive. Removal of leaf litter (raking of leaves) can actually place stress on the trees. It disturbs countless organisms and takes away nutrients for the trees. One can look at leaf litter as nature's free fertilizer.
The woods play an important role in recharging rainwater and runoff before it goes into our sole source of drinking water aquifer. That is why the Town of East Hampton has delineated the Water Recharge Overlay District and established clearing regulations.

Native Plant Garden & Revegetation

The Town of East Hampton differentiates between a native plant garden and a revegetation.

Revegetation of a Cleared Area

The goal of a revegetation is to replant the area with the native species that existed in that area prior to clearing. For example, an area in the Water Recharge Overlay District would most likely be revegetated with lowbush blueberries and oaks. A dune revegetation may just require American beachgrass. Once the revegetation is established (watering may be necessary until plants can develop their root systems) the area should not be maintained but be allowed to grow naturally. That means no raking of leaves or removal of any plants or parts of plants.

Native Plant Gardens

The Town of East Hampton encourages the planting of native plants. We strongly recommend planting native plants whenever possible. Native plant gardens or incorporating native plants into landscaped areas are definitely encouraged. In a native plant garden, one can choose, arrange, and space a variety of plants in a manner pleasing to the eye. One can mulch, remove spent flowerheads, prune, weed, and even rake leaves from a garden. A native plant garden is a valuable addition to the environment providing food and cover for birds, mammals, and insects, however, it cannot be considered a revegetation.


The restoration/reestablishment of the floral component of an ecological community in areas within the Town of East Hampton where some or all of the natural vegetation has been removed. Typically, this process consists of planting indigenous trees and shrubs at a sufficient size and density to mimic an adjoining or nearby plant community in appearance and/or function. Most ecological communities are characterized by woody vegetation but some (i.e., grasslands, tidal marshes, etc.) may be characterized by herbaceous vegetation. Revegetation is distinct from landscaping which frequently utilizes ornamental species in a manner that emphasizes aesthetics over habitat value, natural distribution or ecological function.

[Added 6-8-2004 by L.L. No. 15-2004]