A huge number of US citizens now live within the purview of a homeowners association (HOA) or community association. USA Today estimates that number to be in the tens of millions, with 25-27% of all homeowners subject to the rules of their respective HOA.
With many such organizations setting a community ethos and set of guidelines, one of the first areas to be impacted is gardening – both out front, where image matters, and out back, where the impact of gardening can be felt in neighboring lots.
Many HOAs share a common set of rules that you may encounter across the nation; staying on the right side of these, while having some freedom over your greenery, can be a challenge.
HOAs are often a prerequisite for purchasing property within a certain development. They have sets of rules, left over from the development period, and a board or committee that enforces them. Most HOAs are peaceful, but regulation of rules can be very arbitrary and lead to HOA selective enforcement. Civil and peaceful resolutions are usually possible in most HOAs but there occasions where HOA board member harassment has to be addressed and residents have to look to find ways around this kind of unhelpful behavior.
As a home-buyer in a HOA, it’s imperative that you learn the rules of what you can and cannot do, and operate within those bounds. Even then, it’s important to know how to deal with disputes; one Florida homeowner, despite not breaking any rules, became embroiled in a long fight over their Florida-friendly lawn, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The key is in keeping receipts. Whenever you want to make a notable change to your landscaping, ensure you follow the process. US News highlights the benefits of communicating with board members and representatives before making any change, and ensuring that local policy is followed.
This could be as simple as notifying the board if you are making a landscaping change within the rules, or making an application if necessary. This can seem onerous, given the fact that landscaping is often light-touch, and something you may want to complete as a hobby, or project. The alternative – having to tear up your hard work – is worse.
There may be times when installing a new landscaping feature is against the rules, but you feel you have a particularly compelling case for its inclusion in the makeup of your property – and perhaps your neighbors.
Applying to the board with a suggestion of upgrades – for instance, eco-friendly grass types and plants that improve the look of the neighborhood and perhaps improve its environmental impact, is one way to do this.
This will help you to engage with the local community and make a real positive impact through the medium of gardening. In the long-term, this can help to build awareness within the HOA, and make it a plant-friendly community.
A HOA can be a nightmare to deal with if their rules are particularly draconian. They can also be a gateway to better quality of environment for all of the plants and animals that live in your local area. Stay on the side of the rules to prevent a headache – but don’t be shy about looking for ways to upgrade the plant-life in your community
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.
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