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Cunning homeowner outwits HOA by exploiting legal loophole: 'Where did you get this?'

"It's been a little back and forth."

Audubon at Home to bypass HOA rules

Photo Credit: u/peenisflytrap/ Reddit

One Virginia homeowner recently posted on Reddit to celebrate the completion of their certified native plant garden after defending it from a skeptical homeowners association.

HOAs can be a common obstacle to maintaining a garden, with many creating strict rules about the types of plants residents are permitted to grow. 

Homeowners can face steep fines, like the Redditor who recently posted about being penalized for a garden just four inches too wide. Or they may even be asked to remove the plants entirely, like another avid gardener whose son shared her story online. 

But there are ways to legally protect a garden from an HOA — especially if it's full of native plants. One Maryland couple even changed state law so they could keep their yard full of native flowers.

This Redditor says they spent six years putting together a garden that could be certified by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia as a wildlife sanctuary under the Audubon at Home program. This program grants protections to garden areas that qualify as bird habitats, with the appropriate native plants in place.

The poster shares a picture of a beautiful patch of wilderness, with a garden path and a door visible in the background. The planters in front are full of carnivorous pitcher plants, and surrounded by clover and black-eyed Susans. 

In the foreground, a small sign marks the area as an Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuary. "It's been a little back and forth with my HOA," the original poster shares, "but as long as I keep things mowed and tidy, they don't give me a hard time about my native plants."

Commenters seem shocked at the positive outcome. "This is the first time I heard something positive about an HOA. Nice!" says one user.

Another commenter asks, "Where did you get this sign?" 

The original poster outlines the process, writing, "You have to have your garden certified by the master gardeners and Audubon Society to get the sign. This program is available in a few counties in Virginia, and I know other states have similar programs … I had to show the master gardeners and Audubon Society that my garden provides habitat, food, and water for native birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals."

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