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New homeowner struggles to navigate HOA lawn regulations after relocating: ‘I hate it’

“I don’t know how to get rid of all of it and still be able to blend in with my neighbors.”

"I don't know how to get rid of all of it and still be able to blend in with my neighbors."

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner experienced major culture shock when moving from the Pacific Northwest to Michigan.

“I am from the PNW and lived on a mountain in a gated community (with an HOA),” they explained. “Almost everyone had fully mulched or xeriscaped/rock gardens. Very little grass, and in-ground sprinklers are unheard of.”

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But all of that changed in their new state. “I moved to Michigan last year and found that while every suburb seems to be controlled by HOAs, everyone here is obsessed with grass!” they said. “The HOA ‘laws’ require in-ground sprinklers (biggest waste of money I have ever spent).”

The homeowner posted in r/NoLawns, an anti-lawn subreddit whose users are committed to finding lawn alternatives including native plants, clover, xeriscaping, buffalo grass, and more. 

The anti-lawn movement arose because keeping a lawn is a wasteful practice, using up huge amounts of expensive water and taking up time with mowing — plus, turf grass gives nothing back to the ecosystem. Other plants need way less water and care, and many provide flowers for pollinators to visit.

This homeowner really wanted to embrace these lawn alternatives. “I have mitigated a lot of their landscape requirements by putting a two foot border of river rocks all around my house and having a lot of curved garden beds filled with perennial plants, but I still have so much grass surrounding the rocks and garden beds. I hate it,” they said.

Now they were fresh out of ideas: “I don’t know how to get rid of all of it and still be able to blend in with my neighbors. Any landscape decisions must be drafted and sent to the HOA beforehand for approval so I’m not worried about getting fined and I definitely won’t do something if not approved.”

“If you have to maintain a lawn, you can seed clover into your grass and have a longer cut, letting the clover grow and flower,” suggested one user.

“Any chance of planting a ground cover plant in those areas?” asked another commenter.

“With HOA’s you have to work within the technicalities,” said a third Redditor. “Like the sprinklers for instance. It states that they must exist, but it doesn’t state that you have to use them.”

Even if the rules do insist on a lawn, though, it’s possible to change them using an HOA’s own processes. Here’s how.

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