AUSTIN (KXAN) - In a move to increase water conservation, there's a new law that keeps home owner associations (HOA) from banning water-efficient landscaping. Governor Perry signed the legislation, SB 198, Friday.
A HOA can still require approval before switching landscapes and they can set guidelines on what kind of plants are ok as long as they don't "unreasonably restrict" water-conserving landscapes.
Some Austin communities are already on board. Circle C, in southwest Austin, is one of them.
"Most of the original builders went with the standard pallet of evergreen scrubs and St. Augustine grass but the times have changed quite significantly," said Susan Hoover with the Architectural Control Committee for the Circle C HOA. "We've actually promoted and encouraged within the last two years people to come in with alternative plans."
Circle C has five pages of water wise landscaping guidelines that cover everything from efficient irrigation and drought tolerant plants to the amount of your property that can be covered by turf. They also point residents to resources and landscaping companies. A resident interested in changing their landscaping has to submit a plan. The HOA has 30 days to approve or deny that plan.
"We have a requirement for having two shade trees in the front yard and that does create a large shady area where it's appropriate to do big beds under the trees, more mulching, selected rock work that looks more like a dry creek or something like an accent with boulders then utilizing the turf areas to prevent run off and erosion," said Hoover.
In nearly two years, between 50 and 60 Circle C homes have switched to water wise landscaping.
"They [HOAs] don't prohibit anyone from trying this approach, but if they set up some guidelines and rules they'll be able to get the kinds of results they're going to enjoy and will be really good for their community," said Hoover.
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