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Gardener seeks advice about tree in HOA-governed neighborhood: 'Its roots were messing up the foundation'

"There are very many species of ceanothus, of different textures and heights."

"There are very many species of ceanothus, of different textures and heights."

Photo Credit: iStock

A California homeowner and gardener recently reached out on Reddit for advice on dealing with a tree encroaching on their home's structure.

It wasn't the visible exterior of the house that was being crowded, however. As the poster clarified, "It was unfortunately planted too close to the house and its roots were messing up the foundation." 

Their inquiry further detailed that they hoped to replace the old but water-wise tree with a new Ceanothus, also known as the California lilac. More questions followed. 

"Do they have strong horizontally spreading roots that could mess up the foundation? Or do their roots tend to grow down?"

The homeowner chose this particular species since it requires less water than other options, and they wanted something that could be trimmed or maintained at the height of an average person. 

Saving water in drought-ridden areas like California is commendable. In fact, the state has offered rebates in exchange for swapping water-consuming lawns with more drought-tolerant plants. 

As for the height choice? This was to comply with rules in the neighborhood set forth by the local homeowners association. HOAs can frequently restrict yard design choices, solar installations, and even green improvement projects that could benefit the environment. 

Luckily, the commenter was rewarded with a friendly and knowledgeable response

"There are very many species of ceanothus, of different textures and heights. They don't really have invasive roots, but are used for bank stabilization sometimes," the commenter said.

They even shared a link to the California Native Plant Society, where people can find more information about plants native to the region. The site extols the benefits of maintaining local species, from supporting wildlife and biodiversity to conserving water.

Pollinating bees particularly enjoy the California lilac, according to Bee Life. Gardeners favor this plant for its beautiful blue flowers, which also provide bees with a source of food and habitat. 

Some, such as Bob Vila, even recommend letting your yard and gardens grow unchecked to bolster the surrounding ecosystem. However, HOAs may not support a free-thinking concept like this. But it's still worth talking with your HOA and advocating for greener, more progressive policies. 

The story has a happy ending, as the homeowner with a green thumb managed to find just what they were looking for.

"Ended up finding a nice local variety that's not too big. Hoping to plant it soon!" they said.

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