Section 12.8 of the Creekside HOA covenants specifies that the area between the curb and sidewalk (often referred to as a “hell strip”) “shall be planted in grass and sprinkled and maintained by the homeowner”.
So why was I permitted to install a dry creek bed in the hell strip on my property?
The short answer is that SB 13-183, a Colorado law enacted in 2013, makes unenforceable any covenant requiring turf grass.
But to be clear, SB 13-183 also permits the HOA to define requirements for xeriscaping (e.g., a hell strip full of rock and nothing else does not constitute xeriscaping). That’s why I worked with a local landscape architect to create a dry creek bed that would be pretty while reducing our water usage for that space by more than 75%. Importantly, I secured HOA approval before starting the project.
For the most part, the feedback has been positive, but some in our neighborhood believe that I am required to retain non-functional turf in the hell strip. That is simply not true.
As a homeowner, the math was pretty simple. Either I use a large volume of water in the summer months (at Tier 5 pricing) to maintain non-functional, grub-infested turf or I replace it with a water-wise landscape. I chose to reduce my water usage.
Most importantly, my exterior changes were reviewed and approved by the Architectural Design Committee.
Times are changing and the HOA covenants need to reflect current Colorado law. More information about the proposed consolidated covenants can be found here.