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New homeowner dreads encounter with 'fastidious' HOA: 'I'd rather live in a tent in the forest than live under another [HOA]'

"What counsel can you give us?"

Homeowner with a love of native plants

Photo Credit: iStock

One future homeowner with a love of native plants recently posted on Reddit for advice about dealing with a future homeowner association.

HOAs are notorious opponents of unusual yard and home features — including those that save time, money, and the environment, such as native plant gardens. 

Native plants usually don't need much extra water or care, so they're cheap and easy to grow. They're also a healthy addition to the ecosystem because they support native wildlife, including pollinators.

However, many HOAs are forceful about keeping traditional lawns in place, and this Idaho Redditor knew it. 

"Has anyone experienced challenges with a HOA when they go native?" they asked. "If so, what counsel can you give us?"

According to the Redditor, they didn't live in an HOA yet but were worried about the future.

"My husband and I temporarily live with his parents," they explained. "We see them mowing and weeding every weekend, and both of us have vowed that when we have our own home, we don't want to do that … Our neighborhood HOA is very fastidious, though. My mother-in-law once received a letter about a branch that had fallen into her yard during a storm!"

Rather than doing constant yard work to meet an HOA's expectations, the Redditor had some ideas for a beautiful but low-maintenance yard. 

"I would love to have a space with native plants and bees and butterflies!" they said. "Honestly, a blanket of pebbles with a few cacti would be preferable to the pointless green monochrome blanket, which is incredibly hard to maintain, and has such a negligible return on investment."

One solution proposed by commenters was to avoid buying a home in an HOA to begin with. 

"I've lived in 2 HOAs so far, [and] currently have a house not in an HOA," said one user. "I'd rather live in a tent in the forest than live under another."

Another option is to go to a state where the law protects homeowners who want to grow wildflowers. For example, a couple in Maryland recently succeeded in changing the law to protect their native plants from their HOA.

If the Redditor can't avoid buying a property with an HOA, then a third option would be to work within the organization's bylaws to try to change any frustrating rules. The Cool Down offers a guide explaining how to do just that.

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