Xeriscaping—the landscaping system that reduces or eliminates the need for watering—is increasingly gaining in popularity across the globe, with some states in the U.S. finding it to be an antidote to droughts and low rainfall.
Western states that depend on the critically low-flow Colorado River, for instance, are relying on xeriscaping and other water savings techniques to create climate-friendly gardens.
Statistics indicate that lawns use up to 60 per cent of the total water consumption of individual households.
Such is the seriousness of the situation that many local governments have limited outdoor watering.
Some HOA members may wonder how their homeowners’ rules and regulations affect their ability to use xeriscaping in their lawns.
Many HOAs currently require the upkeep of regular, water-intensive lawns. State laws have stepped in to remedy this situation, passing laws that stop HOAs from preventing homeowners from xeriscaping and installing solar panels.
Colorado passed a law to this effect in 2021, while Texas passed a similar law almost 10 years ago. What are your rights as a homeowner in this respect?
Which State Do You Live In?
If your association pays for accredited HOA management services, a good place to start is with your manager.
Management not only takes charge of economic and administrative matters, but also communicates regularly with homeowners, and prioritizes and executes maintenance and repair work.
It is also a vital source of legal knowledge. Its job is not only to enforce the rules of your association, but also inform you of local laws.
Your manager should be able to tell you if your HOA does not have the right to prohibit you from xeriscaping. Just a few states that allow homeowners liberty with respect to this practice are Utah, Colorado, and Texas.
The drier your area is, the more likely you are to have laws that give you the freedom to save as much water on your lawn as possible.
Xeriscaping Is Compatible with Lawns
Many HOAs make the mistake of assuming that xeriscaping only works in lawn-free areas.
In fact, most xeriscaped gardens have some grassy zones, which are ideal for children’s playing areas and for playing sports. However, it is recommended to use regional grasses that are better acclimated to the environment.
A second major component of xeriscaping is the use of native plants. These have water needs that suit the ecosystems they are usually located in. They are also better integrated with local wildlife, enabling flora and fauna to grow in harmony.
Non-native plants, regardless of how innocuous they seem, all have a risk of becoming invasive if they thrive.
They are capable of harming the delicate balance that has taken years to form, and they may eventually push out native plants and reduce biodiversity.
A third principle of xeriscaping involves encouraging the proliferation of wildlife. Birds and pollinators add visual splendor to a garden, and they are an additional reason to spend time outdoors for animal lovers.
What Work Does Xeriscaping Involve?
Xeriscaping not only involves choosing the right plants, but also maintaining and pruning them frequently, so that water needs are reduced.
Plants requiring similar amounts of water should be placed close to each other. You will also need to employ a targeted irrigation system, which provides only as much water as each species needs.
A drip system is ideal because it enables you to target plants and provide consistent yet measured amounts of water.
Placing mulch around plants will reduce the rate of evaporation. Mulch has many added benefits. For instance, it decomposes over time and adds valuable organic matter to the earth.
Prior to breaking down, it serves as a source of sponge that keeps moisture close to the soil. You should aim to have around four inches worth of mulch around as many plants as you can.
Finally, aim to plan your garden in advance, studying the way the sun hits the different areas of your garden. Plants in shady areas will require less water than those in hot, sunny ones.
A Garden Filled with Color
In case you thought xeriscaped gardens were limited in variety, think again.
They accommodate plants, grasses, shrubs, and flowers. Just a few interesting choices to consider include sedum rubrotinctum (which is nicknamed “pork and beans” because of its bean-like shape), pachysandra procumbens (a common ground over plant that is quite drought-resistant), and erigeron karvinskianus (also known as the “Santa Barbara daisy”).
These plants range in color from a stunning vermillion to a pleasant green.
Xeriscaping is a magnificent way for homeowners to save on water waste. If you are a member of a HOA and you wish to have a xeriscaped lawn, but your HOA regulations stipulate the maintenance of standard lawns, talk to your HOA manager or find out how the law affects you.
Many homeowners are unaware that there are state laws that protect their right to maintain greener lawns.