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Homeowner prepares to challenge HOA's complaint about their lawn: 'Who knows what set them off'

"Could you possibly get petitions to update HOA rules?"

"Could you possibly get petitions to update HOA rules?"

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner said they had tried to keep their parents' native lawn looking HOA-friendly — but they still got cited for "weeds," so they turned to Reddit for help.

"Points to bring up when convincing an HOA to let you keep a native plant garden you've installed?" they asked in their post on r/NativePlantGardening.

Native plants are a popular choice with the anti-lawn movement. Unlike traditional grass lawns, which need constant watering, weeding, and mowing, native plants naturally thrive in the local area they come from. They're adapted to the local rainfall and soil conditions, so they'll grow with little to no help, saving owners money and time.

In addition, native plants are good for the Earth. They support water conservation efforts because of their low water needs, and they provide food and shelter for beneficial bugs, birds, and other wildlife — including essential pollinators.

However, HOAs often aren't on board with any lawn alternative, including native plant gardens. While some states have laws protecting native plants, many others lack these protections, allowing HOAs to place restrictions on homeowners' gardening choices. In the worst case, unpaid fines from any broken rules can allow an HOA to foreclose on the home, so their threats shouldn't be taken lightly.

That's why this Redditor's situation was so urgent. "I live in North Carolina and the HOA in my parents' neighborhood has been giving us some trouble in regards to the 'weeds' in the lawn," they explained. "I've been trying to keep it looking intentional, but who knows what set them off. … I'm going to write them back, but how do I approach this?"

Commenters offered a range of suggestions for both satisfying the HOA and preventing future misunderstandings about "weeds."

"Get some nice wooden plant markers with [the plant's] name, and 'native to XYZ,' or 'primary food source for X butterfly,'" said one user. "And a nice plaque to display that talks about all native lawns. Goes a long way if people know what you're doing."

Another commenter offered a script for a letter to the HOA board explaining the benefits of a native plant lawn and listing the native species being protected.

A third commenter said, "Could you possibly get petitions to update HOA rules to fit more modern lifestyles, i.e.: native plants…?"

Changing HOA rules is the best way to protect eco-friendly garden choices long term. Learn more here.

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