Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Covert Gardening

So I may have mentioned that I have been working on launching a community garden.  What is interesting is that most of the people who come to me to garden because their neighborhoods don’t allow gardens.  Yes, that’s right, the Home Owners Associations prohibit it.  Even when it is behind the house.  I know this isn’t the case in all or most of them, but it is beginning to become a trend (at least here in Charlotte, NC).  It is kinda scary how powerful HOA’s are becoming.  The rules for the neighborhood I regretfully live in, is about 75 pages for the core document (with additional sub documents).  To compound this issue, in North Carolina HOA’s are extremely powerful legally.

HOA’s can actually push someone into foreclosure!  They can impose leins on property, they have the right to fine and other major powers.  Now I am very much for an open forum among neighbors and having basic protections.  For example I don’t want abandoned cars on blocks laying around, I want the grass to be cut when needed and other types of rules.  But When I can’t have a 100 square foot vegetable garden located behind my house, where it isn’t visible from the street and it is kept neat and presentable;  that seems unreasonable.

This is something that many people come to the community garden for.  Because they want to have control of their food, but aren’t allowed to. So what do I have to do?  Well I have a covert garden where even my neighbors have a hard time seeing it, not to mention you can’t see it from the street.  When I wanted to expand I was forced to start a whole community garden for this purpose!

What is it like in your area?  Should this be something that is allowed?

  1. This was one of my reasons for selling. My HOA wasn’t as pushy as that, but it none the less annoys me that someone has so much say about my home. I’ll take the risk of the “bad” neighbor over letting someone have control over my home in the future.

    I was amazed at the discretionary powers given our HOA. They decided to add a clause not allowing vehicles with business signs on them or anything that was ‘an eyesore’ – the first part annoyed me because we didn’t have private parking and it felt like you were saying no one except white collar workers wanted, the second part was just too much in the eye of the beholder… It was voted in… I was shocked.

  2. Wow, that is ridiculous.

    I would never move into an area that wouldn’t allow a garden.

    Never even heard of such of a thing.

  3. I despise HOAs. I first learned about them in history books (racism).

    Even nowadays in real life I’ve seen the “eyesore” argument trump all. That’s hardly the highest standard in my list of standards.

    My neighborhood is pretty good, but we (by which I mean they) did vote that no one is allowed to park in their own yard anymore (because it’s an eyesore). I remember one of our neighbors used to park a Mac truck in their yard. I thought two things about that: a) Hey, someone who’s often on the road is getting to visit family now, which made me happy and b) it was awfully polite of them to park in their yard instead of on the street–it gives us more room to drive and better visibility. But who cares about happiness and safety? The important thing is that this truck was an eyesore.

    Fortunately, we are allowed to plant gardens, even in the front (so long as they don’t look like weeds, which are not allowed) and we’re even allowed to have laundry lines. We’re not allowed to run businesses out of our houses, though I suppose if they are not advertised and do not lead to customers parking in the neighborhood, no one is going to know or care.

    Frankly, I don’t even mind if the neighbors don’t mow their grass or leave cars on blocks on their own property. They can even park in front of my house and fill up the rest of my trash can without my permission once I have set it out by the road. Obviously I was raised by wolves.

  4. No garden in your backyard? That goes against the “unalienable rights” of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as promised us in the Declaration of Independence!

  5. Can you imagine God telling Adam and Eve they couldn’t have a garden? LOL

  6. Is there no way to be sneaky? Is there no appeal process? It just boggles the mind.

  7. So, you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase your own property that others are allowed dictate what you can or cannot do with what you own?! What part of freedom is unclear to these HOA?

  8. Container gardening seems to be an obvious answer. OK-so so maybe your HOA says that you can’t dig up the soil in your own back yard, but might they take issue with you growing veggies inside flower pots and other assorted containers? (Edible ornamentals!) Collectively, you might be able to grow quite a lot of food this way, and since it’s portable, doing so might actually fall through HOA legal cracks, especially if greens are hidden among flowers, growing in pots.

    Another thing that comes to mind is the Square Foot Gardening method has a “wheel chair” garden that is a raised bed with a bottom, placed on saw horses. This might be dressed up a bit to make it more “socially acceptable” in the neighborhood, and since it is “portable” it might be another possible way around a HOA code.

    If all else fails, consider growing sprouts in glass jars inside your kitchen cupboards. A vegetable is never more nutritious than when it is a tiny sprout.

    • It is a real shame that I would have to go to such extremes. I say so long it doesn’t impact anyone negatively, it can’t be seen from street or neighbors, then why should it be an issue if I keep it neat looking. I really despise HOA

  9. I have had a garden in my backyard ever since I bought my house. The HOA covenant does not allow gardens but they have been very inconsistent in enforcing the covenant. I merely point out that fact whenever my garden is mentioned and suggest that it could be grounds for a lawsuit. They leave me alone.

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