Article Courtesy of The
First Coast News
By Abigail Curran
Published August 14, 2017
Here in Jacksonville, we have a lot of subdivisions. Most of those have a
Homeowner's Association that makes rules to help keep home values intact. Those
rules can range from making sure your trash cans aren't left on the street for a
week to not allowing palm trees to be planted in the front yard. So can an HOA
make you keep your grass green and watered?
We spoke with Charles McBurney who is an expert in HOA laws in Jacksonville.
Burney says, "If there is something in your declaration that puts restrictions
on your property, It might be the height or condition of the grass, so if you
have a bunch of brown spots it may violate the rules of the homeowners
So the claim that there's a law negating
HOA requirements about keeping your lawn watered is False.
You must keep your lawn watered if your HOA requires it. But
what about in a drought? McBurney says that "The laws of
your community, your city, your state are always going to
overrule whatever’s within the declaration of covenants and
restrictions.” So, if there is a severe water shortage
restrictions can be put in place regardless of what the HOA
Ok so if there's a drought then the local or state standards
take precedence over the HOA.
We found some articles online that talked about HOA
fights over Florida-friendly landscaping. We wanted to know,
can an HOA keep homeowners from making their landscaping
It's a little-known law that was enacted in 2009. It states,
"Florida-friendly landscaping" means quality landscapes that conserve water,
protect the environment, are adaptable to local conditions and are drought
"The principles of such landscaping include planting the right plant in the
right place, efficient watering, appropriate fertilization, mulching, the
attraction of wildlife, responsible management of yard pests, recycling yard
waste, reduction of stormwater runoff, and waterfront protection."
To learn more about this we spoke with Chuck Hubbuch, who is a
horticulturist and the assistant director of Physical Facilities at the
University of North Florida. We also spoke with Charles McBurney again who
is an expert in HOA law in Jacksonville.
Looking at that first principle, we asked what planting the right plant in
the right place really meant. Hubbuck explained that “A Florida-friendly
plant could be a plant from a swamp if it's going into an area that's very
moist or it could be a plant from a very dry place if it's growing in a
sandy dryer situation. It's very situation based, it all depends on what the
conditions are. Maybe a bald cypress will go into a low wet area, a long
leaf pine or a live oak would go into a higher dyer place.”
IF you mix up the conditions, Hubbuck says the plant could die and look bad
for a long time.
Hubbuck says this kind of planting can help conserve water because of the
shade. “Plants help your home environment by providing shade on the ground.
That reduces the sunlight that hits the ground, reduces the evaporation.
Canopy trees give off moisture during the day as they go through their
metabolic processes, moisture is released into the air and that can actually
cool down the atmosphere by about 5 degrees.”
So if I wanted to install landscaping like this in my subdivision, could I
just do it? There's a section of the law that says that deed and covenant
restrictions can't keep people from putting in Florida-friendly landscaping,
however, McBurney says that “the owner doesn't have unfettered discretion on
how they're going to have Florida-Friendly Landscaping.” The association can
still put reasonable restrictions on how it's used, where it's located, the
height of the plants and they can require a plan before you start digging up
McBurney says to make sure you look over your declaration of covenants and
restrictions because you are bound to follow those. “It can solve a lot of
potential heartaches and pocketbook problems down the line.”