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Student challenges the scope of HOA power in their state: ‘It is possible to change the world for the better’

“Just takes persistence!”

Yard with native plants.

Photo Credit: iStock

Many homeowners who want to make eco-friendly home improvements have found their HOAs standing in their way, but all it takes to change that is an update in policy — and this student wanted to give it a shot.

“HELP: Need ideas and resources for a policy memo that stops HOAs from demolishing wildflower/native/agricultural lawns,” they said in a Reddit post on an anti-lawn community

Supporters of the anti-lawn movement are in favor of grass alternatives like xeriscaping, native plants, and clover, as these save money, water, and time while often providing food for pollinators.

But HOAs, with their standards for the appearance of the neighborhood and their legal ability to fine homeowners, often require grass — and in many states, they get their way.

However, the state government can change that. “I’m working on writing a climate policy memo in my university to bring to a local governor’s attention,” said this Redditor in their post. “I want to bring awareness and vouch for basically everything this subreddit stands for, with a focus on allowing native gardens on your lawn and removal of monoculture lawn enforcement from HOAs.”

To achieve their goal, they asked for help finding references. “Help me find resources of other states where a precedent has already been set, or bring ideas of where a strong argument for this idea could be made,” they said.

Native lawn lovers in the subreddit brought their A-game.

“The great state of Maryland passed such legislation; you could look into that,” said one commenter.

The law they were referring to passed in Maryland after Janet and Jeff Crouch, avid native plant gardeners, got into a battle with their own HOA about what they were allowed to plant. The result was greater freedom for homeowners throughout the state to make decisions for their own property.

“Thank you so much! This matches pretty closely to what I’m trying to do in Washington!” said the original poster.

“As you can see it is possible to change the world for the better. Just takes persistence!” said another commenter.

“Florida has a law that prohibits other jurisdictions from preventing ‘Florida-friendly landscaping,’” another user pointed out.

“You could consider writing legislation that makes HOAs illegal,” joked another Redditor.

What’s often easier is changing an HOA’s rules from the inside. Here’s how.

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