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Does Your HOA Let You Plant Trees?

HOA

Living in a homeowners association (HOA) environment means that you must abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the HOA board of directors. The common good in the case of trees and plants is the look and feel of the environment, as well as ease of maintenance. Hopefully, the HOA has set out covenants, conditions, and restrictions that include common sense. The gardening policy should allow a certain degree of latitude within the perimeter of personal property and have guidelines for gardening in common areas. The key to acting in the common good, and maintaining good neighborly relations at the same time, is to have a proactive HOA and for all owners to be active participants. HOA rules and policies should give thought to the following tree planting aspects.

Does Your HOA Let You Plant Trees?

Type of tree

The policy should set out which trees can and can’t be planted. This should be based on the type of tree. In an attempt to be water-wise, the HOA may specify indigenous trees and ban exotic trees. The policy may prescribe planting more of the same trees as are already there to maintain the same look and feel throughout the neighborhood. Consideration also needs to be given to the impact roots can have on the built environment as the tree grows. Roots can cause expensive maintenance problems down the line as they spread out under roads, walls, and buildings. Therefore, HOA communities need to consider the number of trees being planted.

Visibility

A key concern of any HOA policy is the extent to which a tree may impact a neighbor’s visibility. It can block sunlight from entering their windows or cast shade on plants they are trying to grow. In this case, consideration of the height and number of trees is important.

Maintenance

Debris landing in common areas costs money (or takes time) to clean up. The HOA will consider the type and size of a tree that you want to plant, in order to determine the effect on common area maintenance. For example, fruit trees can be very messy. Therefore, the HOA can veto such trees at the board members’ discretion. This consideration will be even more important when planting trees in common areas such as along sidewalks.

Policy Communication

Living in an HOA community means complying with the HOA policies as communicated. The policy should appear on the HOA website if there is one or perhaps on a Facebook page. A hard copy may even have been slipped into your mailbox at some time. Homeowners need to be proactive and ask for the policy before planting any trees. The rule of thumb would be to ask your neighbors before going ahead with the tree planting.

Additional Reading: Why It’s Great to Plant Trees in the Fall

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