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In Honor of Earth Day, Water Your Lawn…Or Maybe Don’t

By: Marcus Dumville

XerriscapeOne of the primary functions of a community association is to enforce rules and standards (covenants) in order to maintain, as well as enhance, the aesthetics and appeal of a neighborhood.  Curb appeal is important because potential homebuyers driving, or walking, through a neighborhood are likely to base their first impressions of an area on the facade.  Well-maintained homes and well-manicured lawns speak to the pride homeowners feel toward their community and consequently the desirability of an area.  Historically, lush green grass and mature, blossoming trees were the ideal – a scene that would make Norman Rockwell proud – but there are other ways to have a “green” lawn without all the watering and attention.

In Colorado, as well as other drought prone areas, people are more frequently looking for ways to lessen their environmental impact, and water usage, while maintaining a beautiful home and complying with HOA rules.  One option for these environmentally minded homeowners is to utilize a landscaping and gardening technique called xeriscape.  Xeriscape is the combination of a number of landscape design techniques and principles with a focus on utilizing drought tolerant plants to reduce required maintenance while promoting water saving and irrigation efficiency.

Xeriscape is not just neglecting to water your lawn nor is it simply planting a couple of cacti in a bed of gravel and calling it a day.  Xeriscape plans require detailed consideration of the landscape, layout, irrigation needs, soil, mulch, and maintenance among other concerns to be properly and sustainably implemented.

CCIOA, the statute governing most community associations in Colorado, prohibits associations from banning outright the use of xeriscape but allows associations to, “adopt and enforce design or aesthetic guidelines or rules that require drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes or regulate the type, number, and placement of drought-tolerant plantings and hardscapes that may be installed.”  In other words, CCIOA does not permit a free-for-all of homeowners ripping out their turf lawns but does allow homeowners and HOAs to work together in order to implement xeriscape principles and designs while maintaining the desired aesthetic of the community.

If you are interested in xeriscape for your lawn or garden make sure to contact your HOA to ensure that you comply with all relevant regulations and procedures.

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