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This state is giving homeowners a crucial new tool for dealing with intrusive HOAs: 'Every U.S. state should do this'

An estimated 40.5% of Colorado residents are members of HOAs.

Water-wise landscaping bill

Photo Credit: iStock

What would the modern suburban American home look like without a traditional lawn — and the homeowners associations (HOAs) that enforce it? A popular Reddit thread has folks talking about a recent Colorado law that will force HOAs to allow water-saving landscaping practices instead of grass, as well as what it might mean for HOA communities in water-stressed regions across the country. 

The law, SB23-178 ("Water-wise Landscaping In Homeowners' Association Communities"), which was signed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis on May 17, allows homeowners to opt for less water-intensive landscaping practices, like rewilded yards, which are lower maintenance, less expensive to maintain, and better for the environment than turf. 

This type of lawn care has often been historically prohibited or discouraged by HOAs, which predominantly seek uniformity and aesthetic value across member properties.

According to an article published in The Gazette and linked in the Reddit forum, HOAs previously could not prohibit low-water landscaping, but could still reject landscape proposals based on aesthetics. 

The new law requires HOAs to preapprove at least three low-water landscaping designs and prevents HOAs from banning artificial turf grass in backyards and vegetable gardens (though fake grass has its own drawbacks).

An estimated 40.5% of Colorado residents are members of HOAs, meaning that the law impacts roughly 2.35 million homeowners across the state. This could dramatically impact the state's rivers that supply residential water, which have been drying up in recent years due to periodic droughts and weather changes.

Redditors in the r/NoLawns group have expressed overwhelming support for this law. One user commented, "Every U.S. state should do this!"

Other group members have applauded Colorado for taking this step forward in promoting diverse lawn practices, which have a substantial potential to decrease residential water use nationwide through legislative means. 

Other forum members referenced the historically prohibitive nature of HOAs, especially in the context of pertinent environmental change. 

One user noted, "In the U.K. you can do whatever you want in your own gardens (yards) front or back. All these regulations seem like sheer madness especially when water is an issue and becoming scarce. What happened to the land of the free? ... except where grass is concerned."

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