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Homeowner aims to skirt problematic HOA landscaping rules: 'I'm just desperate for pretty much anything'

"They can't restrict you."

"They can't restrict you."

Photo Credit: iStock

One Colorado homeowner in a hardscaped nightmare struggled to find a landscaping solution their HOA would accept.

HOAs are notorious for blocking home upgrades that would save owners money and improve their lifestyles, such as solar panels and gardens. Frequently, HOAs insist on lawns, despite the amount of water they require and the hours of maintenance needed to keep them tidy.

But that wasn't the case for this homeowner, who posted about their experience in r/NoLawns.

"They can't restrict you."
Photo Credit: Reddit

"I'm wanting to replace the tile in the courtyard area of our townhome with ground cover," the homeowner explained. "We can't do grass because our HOA won't allow it, because they think that watering it will cause water damage."

According to the Redditor, switching to grass was unlikely to make the situation any worse, since the tile was already keeping the soil moist. They just wanted a noninvasive plant option that would do well in the hot, dry conditions.

That's a good approach, since stone and tile can absorb sunlight and heat up the surrounding area in what's called the heat island effect. Plants help cool their surroundings instead. Plus, some drought-tolerant native flowers would make the yard look much more attractive without requiring much water or upkeep and would support pollinators at the same time.

But the original poster had a hard time finding an option that the HOA would accept without a rule change.

"I pursued the idea of moss but couldn't find anything that would survive, and the HOA told me I had to make sure it wouldn't deteriorate wood," they said. "Now I'm just desperate for pretty much anything."

Luckily, the commenters came to this homeowner's rescue. "Colorado has a state law about HOAs and landscaping," said one user.

In a later comment, they elaborated, "They aren't allowed to require more than 20% hardscaping 'unreasonably,' and they have to allow non-turf, drought tolerant options. They can't restrict you from having pollinator plants or vegetable or herb gardens in the back. They can make a restriction if it is a safety requirement. Say fire hazard maybe?"

Another commenter offered practical advice for choosing a plant species. "Ask the HOA for their list of approved planting and ground covers then check with your local county or university extension service for a list of beneficial native planting and ground cover options," they said.

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