We purchased our home in February 2021. We had made major changes to our prior Marlton home’s lawn and gardens, were avid composters, and envisioned creating native gardens, with less grass, and providing support for bees and birds.
Our new home is in a homeowners association (HOA). Each HOA has its own rules. To avoid conflicts, homeowners need to understand the rules before making changes. For our HOA, pre-approval is not needed to make changes within existing flower beds (i.e. replace shrubs and plants) or remove and replace trees. Approval is needed to add or increase the size of flower beds.
Our HOA also conducts announced semi-annual inspections of each home’s property. If violations are found, the HOA sends a written complaint to the homeowner.
Shown below are some details regarding making changes to homes in our HOA. Deciphering what requires approval can be challenging. To avoid any issues, we shared our plans, providing more details than were required.
Requires Approval by our HOA
- For corner properties the backyard is defined as that part of the ground inside the line of the house facing the street.[Note: we do not know what this means.] When approval was granted to expand our garden beds, we were told the expansion plans were granted with exception due to our plot being a corner plot (which tend to have more land). If we had less land, the expansion may not have been granted.
- No vegetable garden shall be permitted. From our observation, this means no formal plots with vegetables. Some homeowners have vegetables planted in their flower gardens.
- No garden supplies (mulch, lime, fertilizer, etc.) or any other garden equipment/appliance can be stored on FRONT, SIDE OR BACK PORCHES, driveways, or lawns.
- Addition of any landscaping other than in existing flower beds
Approval Not Required by our HOA
- Tree or Shrub replacement with like or similar
- Removal and no replacement of any landscaping
- Tree, Bushes, or Shrub Trimming
- Addition of ANY shrubbery in existing flower beds
There is a thriving deer population living in the nearby woods. We had prior experience with rabbits and squirrels, but never deer. We needed to find ways to deter their destruction and encourage them to eat elsewhere.
Our initial plans
- Remove the overgrown shrubs that were too close to the house, and eaten by deer (where they can reach, making the shrubs look odd).
- Remove the oak tree to the left of the driveway. It was overgrown and had damaged the roof.
- Remove the pin oak tree on the right side of our house. It was partially dead.
- Remove the small shrubs in front of the house and evergreen in front of the patio (it blocked the garden view). (The shrubs were too formal looking for our liking.)
- Expand the garden beds, and add a garden bed on the left front side of the house, and continue the garden bed in the backyard around to the patio.
- Plant native shrubs, perennials and trees that were as much as possible deer resistant.
What We Have Done So Far
- Hired a native garden consultant to help plan the garden plants and trees.
- Removed the trees and shrubs as planned.
- Replaced the 2 trees with native ones (little gem magnolia - a type of evergreen, and cherokee princess dogwood).
- Add wire fencing around the dogwood after a deer rubbed its antlers on the bark and scratched the bark.
- Added the garden beds around the left side of the house and back, and expanded the garden bed on the right side.
- Planted small shrubs and perennials in the new and expanded garden beds.
- Added pavers at the curb in specific locations to provide drainage to the street from storm water and melting snow.
- Redesigned the front steps, with pavers, replaced the pavers in back, and added a paver enclosure for our garbage cans (still in progress). We sold the old pavers, saving them from the dump.
- Saved our compost scraps and took them to a local grocery store for composting, did the dig a hole method for a short time, and then more recently contracted for a weekly compost scrap pickup service.
Plans for Spring 2022
- Add more plants to the garden beds, using the plans from the consultant as our guide.
- Grow some annual vegetables and flowers in pots, hanging pots, and in the ground. We have found deer ignore carrots, and carrots look like plants to the casual observer and provide a natural edging plant. Deer also do not like plants that smell, including some herbs.