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Suburban compromise - how to garden without antangonizing my HOA

 
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
73
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When my husband and I started house shopping 6 years ago, I started day dreaming about gardening. I wanted a potting shed made from old reclaimed windows, a chicken tractor and moveable roost, rain barrels hooked up to an aquaponic growing system, a huge garden with a mini orchard, rabbits, gazebos, a permanent hammock stand.....and on and on....
My preferred houses were older, some even historic, on small plots of land from 2-10 acres. My husband wanted a brand new house in a nice neighborhood....He said everything I liked was too old, I said everything he liked was too new. He said the land was too big, I said too small. Eventually it all came down to economics; what we could afford was a quick-build new house in a suburban neighborhood. We did managed to get one of the biggest lots in the neighborhood (my consolation prize).

Shortly after we moved in I started drafting up designs for my backyard paradise, and started digging up some nice beds in the front lawn (I really dislike the "lawn" as a concept, too much wasted space). That got brought to a screeching halt by our HOA.
Did I mention our HOA? Yeah, I hate them. By-laws in the HOA contract state that beds and landscaping in front lawns (or anywhere that can be "seen from the street") must be ornamental only. NO VEGGIE BEDS! Any and all lot "improvements" (garden beds) must be submitted to the HOA council for approval. Absolutely NO livestock animals of any kind; no poultry, rabbits (other than indoor pets), goats, etc. Backyard "improvements" don't require approval unless they can be seen from the street.

So basically our HOA is evil.

Over the years since we moved in, I've built up some small garden beds in the backyard. Planted some sneaky "ornamental" herbs in the front beds.
Then I went back to work full time and put the gardening and landscaping stuff on the back burner.
Last year I changed jobs and got a significant pay increase and started setting money aside for "Projects". Then Covid hit and I was furloughed. I've been using the downtime to start re-thinking my approach to my HOA problems. The larger beds in the backyard are going to be "Pollinator Gardens" on paper and a food forest in reality. Beds in the front yard and side yard will look traditionally landscaped, but will contain mostly native ornamentals. Lots of interspersed herbs and visually decorative food plants mixed in. I'm planning on keeping at least 5-6 traditional veggie beds in the back in addition to the "sculpted pollinator" beds. The pond has been completely nixed by the HOA along with the rain barrel system. We installed a rather large system of french drains instead since they are buried underground and therefor not "visible from the street".

We did manage to get our Solar array approved and that was installed about two years ago.

I've drafted some plans to submit to the HOA before we start working on the front "lawn". We probably won't start working on this until next year at the earliest; haven't decided if we want to start in the back or front. Current pending project is a framed patio in the back with sail-shades.

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pollinator
Posts: 11804
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
1058
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Great work!  I think it's very important for us city-dwellers to create permaculture yards which can pass as acceptable to HOAs, since so many people live in them.  Fortunately where I garden at my dad's house, the HOA isn't very involved in getting up in everyone's business.  I have a Pollinator Habitat along the street, which is beginning to include some edible things like Moringa.  A hedge along the side of the front yard has fruit trees, Moringa, and a multitude of different plants including some vegetables.  I think if we plant lots of flowers we can get away with sticking some vegetables in there, and definitely herbs.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 11804
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
1058
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
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Oh, I notice you have a lot of drought tolerant plants in the design, but can't see indication that you are trying to direct run-off to the planting areas.  Are the french drains routed to the beds, or, what is your plan to transition to a water-retention landscape?
 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
73
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Patio Project:

16' x 16' x 6" poured slab (Patio)
-dig up grass and topsoil (save topsoil for later use)
-Level ground
-build wood frame
-layer sand/gravel
-pour and level cement
Materials: concrete, sand, gravel, 2x4 lumber, floats, finishing trowels
(Concrete options: rent a mixer and work in batchs, or use local company)


Wooden Frame/Pergola
-Drill holes for end posts
-Secure corner and side posts to concrete
-Outer framework for the "roof"
-Brace corner posts for stability
-Cross-beams for "roof"
Materials: 4x4 or 6x6 posts, 2x6 lumber, metal post brackets, metal hardware


Sun Shades
-Attach hardware to roof framing
-Thread shades onto lines
-Hang lines from hardware
 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
73
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Tyler Ludens wrote:  I think if we plant lots of flowers we can get away with sticking some vegetables in there, and definitely herbs.



This is what I'm planning to do to try and sneak my productive stuff into the front beds!

I may have some questions for you about plant-sourcing when I start working on these.
 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
73
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Oh, I notice you have a lot of drought tolerant plants in the design, but can't see indication that you are trying to direct run-off to the planting areas.  Are the french drains routed to the beds, or, what is your plan to transition to a water-retention landscape?



The current french drain system incorporates two of the three downspouts on the house; specifically the ones in the front yard and the one nearest the street in the side yard. Those drains both run under existing beds, but we left the ends accessible if we wanted to extend them. The third drain empties out into a teensy little bed where I'm currently growing canna. I'll probably plant some more water-loving stuff in the mini bed to help soak up all the lovely rainwater.

I've mapped out the drainage of our yard, and it basically all slopes towards the fences; the heaviest drainage flows right into my existing veggies beds. The new beds will all be in the drainage areas up against the fences to make use of the run-off.


Edited to add: If you have any suggestions for methood we could implement to help utilize and retain water I'd love to hear them! I have a lot to learn and would love to make our garden/yard a truly sustainable ecosystem.
 
Carolyne Castner
pollinator
Posts: 131
Location: Zone 8B Blackland Prairie, Tx
73
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Additional Projects:

Brick-paved patio with heat source (possibly rocket oven?)
Skiddable tool storage shed
Permanent hammock frame
Improved compost system
Improved brush pile
Raised bed (shaded) for Zoe and neighborhood kids
Permanent trellis for vining veggies
Re-build garden beds!
Soil ammendment via cover crops
Bat house
Catio?
Re-think rainbarrel system
Buried dog waste system
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