One homeowner experienced a frustrating dilemma with their homeowners association when they tried to trade out their yard’s stone and mulch landscaping for live plants.
They went looking for advice on Reddit, posting about the issue in a popular complaint subreddit focused on unreasonable HOAs. Yard complaints are a frequent topic of conversation there — although usually, homeowners are fighting to install xeriscaping or unconventional plants, not basic ground cover in a barren front yard.
“I recently removed the river stones and wood chips that covered my front yard and planted with what will become beautiful green and drought tolerant ground cover,” the Redditor explained. “Just got a letter from the HOA saying I need to cover the bare areas with mulch.”
Unfortunately, one of the main purposes of mulch is to smother young sprouts. Normally, this is useful for keeping weeds from coming up, but in the case of the original poster’s new plantings, it would be a disaster. “If I do that it’ll kill the ground cover and prevent it from being able to grow,” they said.
Other homeowners have faced similar dilemmas when switching to nontraditional ground covers. California resident Fran Paxson was advised to restore some of the grass lawn she removed before the mint she planted even had time to grow in, and another Redditor received a scathing letter from a neighbor about the bare areas in their newly planted native plant garden.
If there were consistent rules being applied throughout the neighborhood, that would be understandable, but according to this Redditor, that’s not the case. “I’m a bit p***** because my neighbors have made even more significant changes to their front yard (like building structures without approval) and they haven’t been bothered,” they said. “I’d like to counter with buying more ground cover to help it grow faster and make the bare areas seem less.”
One commenter suggested working with the HOA for a peaceful solution. “Since the HOA has sent you a tsk-tsk letter, reply somewhat apologetic,” they said. “Agree to some mulch. Get the finely shredded minimum amount to get them off your back. The stuff will break down relatively quickly, and honestly it will do your plants good. … Go to the next meeting, have your info, sell them on it.”
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