I wrote last week on a Texas House bill that supports Texans xeriscaping their yards to reduce water usage. This may conjure visions of your neighbors’ yards looking wild and unkempt. This is not uncommon.

There are many people who are uninformed about xeriscaping and the benefits, not to mention the beauty of a well-maintained xeriscaped yard.

Many of us live in neighborhoods that participate in a Homeowners Association. These groups elect members who will serve in the best interest of their neighbors, property values and city ordinances. HOAs can be very important for the consistency and aesthetics of a neighborhood, and even a bit of rule enforcement and accountability. This can be very important for maintaining a quality of life within a neighborhood, and those who volunteer to serve in an HOA capacity may face difficult and sometimes unpopular scenarios.

HOAs usually have a set of criteria for property owners to follow. When you decide to incorporate xeriscape features into your yard to be a better steward of declining natural resources, it can be a fine line as to whether your HOA will approve such changes. Before you make changes, know your HOA property guidelines and do your homework. This will keep them happy and you will be doing your part for the environment.

When I say do your homework, that means surveying your landscaping, determining which areas would make the most difference, and developing a plan or design. Then you need to locate nurseries that carry the native plants and materials you’ll need. Asking a native plant professional is very important, since they can assist you with plants, soil requirements, when to plant, and offer tips on upkeep and maintenance.

The main thing to remember when deciding to xeriscape while living under HOA guidelines is incorporating water-saving plants neatly, so that your yard doesn’t appear “out of regulation” or disheveled. Hopefully, others will appreciate the changes and may even consider their own.

Finally, some xeriscape changes are fairly simple while others may require labor that can be contracted out, so know your limitations and make sure it’s both complete and appealing. That way your HOA never has to get involved.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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