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Texas Law Clears Path for Xeriscaping

Homeowners associations in Texas can no longer prevent residents and property owners from installing drought-resistant landscaping, according to newly enacted legislation. HOAs can require a plan for review, according to the bill, but must approve all 'reasonable' requests and cannot decline plans for xeriscaping based on appearances alone.
Credit: Central Texas Gardening

Texas homeowners can now save water with xeriscaping without fear of legal challenges from their homeowners associations.

Senate Bill 198, first proposed in the Texas state legislature by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin, both), prevents HOAs from prohibiting the installation of drought-resistant landscaping or other native, water-conserving groundcover.

A report from the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center states that increasing drought-tolerant plants in landscaping over traditional lawn grasses could save 14 billion gallons of water by 2020, the equivalent of what 240,000 Texans use in a year.

"Residential lawns planted with common lawn grasses like St. Augustine and Kentucky bluegrass require large amounts of water to grow in the arid regions of Texas -- far in excess of what native plants would require," Environment Texas director Luke Metzger said in a statement.

Associations can still require preliminary approval of any xeriscaping plans, but their control is limited and must be "reasonable," said Gregory Cagle, author of the book "Texas Homeowners Association Law," according to Community Impact News. Cagle expects the new legislation will lead to a standard set of xeriscaping regulations that HOAs will share throughout the state.

The full text of the legislation - which goes into effect September 1, 2013 - is available here.

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November 20, 2019, 2:21 pm PDT

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