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Working with your HOA

New Braunfels NPSOT member Kathleen Scott was interviewed by Central Texas Gardener (PBS, KUT Austin) in 2022 about native planting within a restrictive HOA.

The Challenge

Ideally a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) exists to represent the community while protecting the property owners’ interests. Ultimately your property’s value is increased because of the enforcement of the agreed upon rules and regulations (deed restrictions). This sounds beneficial until you find yourself at odds with how they are interpreted and enforced when you incorporate native plants.

In part, the deed restrictions covering the home’s exterior includes general maintenance to prevent overgrown lawns, “weeds” and unkept exteriors. Traditionally, HOAs prefer the manicured green turf grass and appointed evergreen ornamentals. Changing the perspective of what constitutes an ideal landscape can have its challenges.

Defining “Wildscape”

Let’s begin with an understanding by what we mean by a wildscape. A wildscape is a way of designing your home’s landscape to attract and benefit birds and pollinators by providing the required food, water, and shelter.

Dealing with your HOA

Beware / Be Aware of your Bylaws

There may be requirements covering what types of trees, plants, and shrubs that are allowed to be planted in your landscape. There are many alternatives in the native plant world that prove to be better substitutes for these typical landscaper choices.

Educate Yourself

Ask your local NPSOT Chapter for ideas on better choices. Or better yet, sign up for a Native Landscape Certification Program (NLCP) class to learn more. Classes focus on the characteristics and plants of the region in which they are taught.

Partner with your Providers

The NICE Native Plant Partners program (in some areas known as Operation NICE!) is a collaboration between the Native Plant Society of Texas and local nurseries around the state to offer natives that are right for the local environment. As a Society, our members naturally appreciate native plants. With this knowledge we transform our lawns and gardens into wildscapes moving away from formal and structured designs with nonnative ornamental plants. However, all too often our NPSOT members find their HOA doesn’t see this as a landscape in keeping with the community’s deed restrictions and by-laws. As a native plant advocate, you can unite with others in your community and help them understand the benefits that come from using native plants for landscaping.

More about working with your HOA

Download “Working with your HOA” for detailed information about how to work effectively with your HOA.

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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason