Author Topic: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document  (Read 4893 times)

geekette

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HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« on: June 28, 2015, 08:28:59 PM »
We've lived in our house over 20 years, and someone has apparently decided that lawn maintenance is now going to become a big deal.  Whee.

I've been invited to help create a standards document.  I may be the only one there that doesn't think a few weeds are going to bring down property values.  Seriously?  There's an abandoned, vermin infested house with some odd ownership problems that the HOA has been trying to get fixed up for years, and people are worried about weeds?

We don't even have a lawn.  Over the years, we've slowly replaced any lawn with shrubs, trees, and mulched pathways. Anything to keep me out of the sun in the summer.

I'm hoping to get at least a few paragraphs put in for non-traditional green space, including shrubs and perennials that grow well in our area.  I'd like a garden club or community garden, but that might be wishing for too much, judging from the attitudes I've seen on our Nextdoor site.  Yikes.

These are middle (to upper middle?) class houses that are 20-30 years old.  Nice enough, but not what you'd call "executive" homes or anything.  White collar, mostly American cars/vans.  That sort of thing. 

Any web links showing that weedy lawns hurt (or don't hurt) property values?  Any basic HOA documents on the web that would give me an idea of what I'm up against?

lakemom

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2015, 06:06:57 AM »
You may want to try convincing the board that this could in fact lower home values.  Would you pick a house with such restrictive covenants if given a choice?  Neither would the other buyers in the market.  I would concentrate on getting the language in the document to be as broad and vague as possible so as not to turn the board into another gestapo.  Something along the terms of lawn height as opposed to acceptable number of weeds per lawn.

midweststache

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2015, 06:17:28 AM »
You may want to try convincing the board that this could in fact lower home values.  Would you pick a house with such restrictive covenants if given a choice?  Neither would the other buyers in the market.  I would concentrate on getting the language in the document to be as broad and vague as possible so as not to turn the board into another gestapo.  Something along the terms of lawn height as opposed to acceptable number of weeds per lawn.

This.

As DH and I begin dipping our toes in the market (we're still a couple years off, but feeling out the market) one of the reasons I'm so down on condos and/or townhomes is because of crazy restrictive HOAs (also poorly managed HOAs, but perhaps that doesn't apply here). I would be loathe to buy a SFH that had HOAs, particularly if the association was more hands on than hands off.

MayDay

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2015, 06:38:28 AM »
I would focus more on maintaining a reasonable lawn height (ie mowing regularly) than on what the green stuff is.

There is a recent (within the last 2-3 months) consumer reports article on polyculture lawns.  That is a pretty mainstream publication so it might be well received.

Also, maybe show some stuff about dandelions being really important for bee health, as they are one of the earliest flowers in spring. 

We close on our HOA house tomorrow.  Stupid crap like this is why we wanted out of the neighborhood, and why we'll likely never buy another house in an HOA neighborhood. 

Kitsune

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2015, 06:58:24 AM »
Wow. City folk have a lot of time on their hands... (to quote my dad, with his country property: "Is it green? Is it mowed? Then it's lawn.)

This is why I would never, ever buy property with a HOA. If I wanted someone to tell me what to put on my lawn, I'd be renting.

(And this is from someone who tends to swing pretty far left on the political scale, even considering Canadian politics.)

Seriously, in terms of advice, you'd have better luck with vague language about lawn length instead of specifics of what's in the lawn, and insisting that the language be left open so that if someone wanted to plant, say, creeping thyme in the front yard instead of grass, that they'd be able to. (A friend of mine did that in the city, since he had such a tiny front plot that he didn't want to buy a mower to mow a 10x6 plot of grass... it was gorgeous. Lush, and it flowered in 3 different colors, and it smelled nice, and it survived on less water than the neighbors lawns... I love solutions that are practical, save money, and much prettier than the standard alternative.)


I'm a red panda

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2015, 07:25:54 AM »
Our covenants say grass cannot be more than 6" tall.  You have 7 days from the date of notice to trim it, or they do it for you and bill you.

Anything more than that, and there is no way I'd move there.

We do have some weeds in our yard (the broadleaf killer we got this year SUCKED. We've always used Scott's but 3 treatments this year did NOTHING; we'll have to pay a professional at the end of the season like everyone else, it has been a losing battle otherwise)- but there is one house in the neighborhood that is nothing but weeds. They get a lot of complaints behind their back, but they mow to the required height, so there you go.

meg_shannon

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 07:48:28 AM »
From an ecological perspective monoculture lawns are terrible. Especially for beneficial insects, like bees and butterflies. Monarchs have a 80-90% drop in population in the past 30 years due to decreasing milkweed plants (the only plant the Monarch caterpillar eats). I don't know if you'll have much luck with your group, but I would consider contacting your county extension office or a local university department about which plants need to be planted. There should at least be exemptions for native plants.

Ideally HOA yard guidelines would have very little to do with maintaining a lawn, but would be centered around maintaining a low irrigation and beneficial yard (native plants, safe harbor for insects and birds, etc.)

Jack

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2015, 07:50:30 AM »
Also, maybe show some stuff about dandelions being really important for bee health, as they are one of the earliest flowers in spring. 

I was about to complain that dandelions couldn't possibly be important ecologically because they're not native, then remembered that honeybees aren't either.

Our covenants say grass cannot be more than 6" tall.  You have 7 days from the date of notice to trim it, or they do it for you and bill you.

What I want to know is, what would happen if you claimed your >6" tall plants were a "planting bed" instead of a "lawn?"

I'm a red panda

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2015, 08:07:39 AM »


What I want to know is, what would happen if you claimed your >6" tall plants were a "planting bed" instead of a "lawn?"
It specifies grass. So if your "planting bed" is grass- it is going to get mowed.  If it is other plants, you'd probably be okay unless you had some sort of rodent infestation (not hard to have with all the field mice around here) that would otherwise classify your property as nuisance.

geekette

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2015, 08:46:39 AM »
Thanks for the info, especially that consumer reports article. Our HOA (actually, I've been told, a community association, whatever difference that makes) has been fine as far as I'm concerned, but someone has been agitating for lawn standards, so here we go. The guy running the group seems quite reasonable, but the one post I saw from his wife makes me think she's behind this push.

I posted a link to the CR article on the NextDoor site, and will see what kind of reception it gets.


Erica/NWEdible

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2015, 09:06:29 AM »
Just be careful. This way lies madness and busybodies.

GuitarStv

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2015, 09:12:26 AM »
1939 Germany . . . lawn purity document was initially crafted.  Things started to get out of hand after that point.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2015, 09:35:35 AM »
1939 Germany . . . lawn purity document was initially crafted.  Things started to get out of hand after that point.

The tipping point was those Nazi lawn gnome informants. First they come for our weeds.... ;)


Schaefer Light

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Re: HOA - trying to craft a "lawn standards" document
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2015, 10:15:16 AM »
I wish my HOA had one of these.  Having neighbors with a weed-infested yard and grass that's a foot high is not good for your property value.