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New law sticks it to heavy-handed HOAs in defense of home gardeners: 'I can't believe it took them this long'

"How can I make it happen in my state?"

Colorado’s new landscaping law

Photo Credit: iStock

A recent Reddit thread celebrated Colorado's new landscaping law regarding homeowners associations, highlighting an often-overlooked aspect of the legislation: the permitting of vegetable gardens.

HOAs often demand green, regularly mowed lawns for every home — even when that drives up residents' water bills.

Colorado already had a law that said HOAs had to allow drought-resistant landscaping. However, it had a loophole that let HOA boards reject landscaping proposals based on appearance, effectively allowing them to ban lawn alternatives anyway.

A recent bill, SB23-178, closed that loophole by requiring HOAs to preapprove several water-saving landscaping options. But as this Redditor pointed out, that's not all the new law does.

"A new law in Colorado requires HOAs to allow vegetable gardens and drought-tolerant landscaping, even in front yards!" said the Redditor, sharing a link to the Colorado Wildlife Federation's page on the issue.

The CWF clarified: "The new [law] provides that an association's guidelines or rules must … allow a unit owner an option that consists of at least 80% drought-tolerant plantings; and not prohibit vegetable gardens in the front, back, or side yard of a unit owner's property." It's similar to a recent "right to food" law in Maine.

Growing a vegetable garden is an incredible way for people to get more from their homes. Every veggie you grow is one you don't have to buy — not to mention that you're getting exercise, fresh air, and sunlight.

At the same time, a vegetable garden is a good choice for the environment. You can recycle your food scraps into compost so nothing goes to waste. When many people grow their own produce, it means they're not buying as much from their grocery store, meaning they don't have to order as much food and there's less air pollution from shipping vehicles.

Commenters on Reddit loved the change but were unhappy with the slow process. 

"I can't believe it took them this long," said one user. "They've had multiple multi year droughts in the last 20 years."

Others hoped the change would spread: "How does this happen and how can I make it happen in my state?" said one commenter.

While getting these legal protections in every state will take time, HOA residents can always follow this guide to changing their board's rules.

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