Template for Homeowner Association Xeriscaping Guidelines

Xeriscape in Texas

Important Note on Applicability of the Model Xeriscape Guidelines Below:

Please use the templates below as samples to assist you in the adoption of guidelines for drought-tolerant landscapes for your homeowner association (HOA). These templates may work in totality for some HOAs but not for others. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy because of differing community needs and legal set up of HOA documents. The most important factor is that you supply an option whereby homeowners are able to eliminate plantings that require regular watering. Once xeriscapes are established, they should be self sufficient, except in times of persistent drought. If you choose to adopt a plan that requires at least some of turf grass, please keep in mind that many turf grasses go dormant during the summer and will spring back to life when rain falls. It is not necessary to water them continuously to keep them alive.

Consult an attorney if concerned about how these guidelines fit with your existing documents and governing structure.



Template 1: (Defined Beds, No sod Requirement)

Xeriscape Standards for ________ HOA

Adopted (month) (year) by Master Board



Xeriscaping means using native and adaptive plants that can grow and sustain themselves in dry natural conditions such as those in Texas. Xeriscapes should need little to no water other than what is naturally occurring and tolerate heat and drought conditions. Since the passage of TX SB198 in June 2013, HOAs must not unreasonably restrict homeowners who desire a landscape that saves water. Under this new law, the following xeriscape standards set guidelines homeowners that decide to xeriscape in ____ HOA.

The advantages of xeriscaping include

  • Substantial cost savings on water bills
  • Conservation of diminishing water resources
  • Prevention of pollution from environmentally harmful run-off
  • Reduced yard maintenance requirements
  • Pride in knowing that you are protecting our fragile environment and limited resources
  • Aesthetic beauty and increased homeowner options for plant material

1) Turf area: _(name of HOA)_ will allow variances to the requirement for full green lawn (turf) areas, for 100% of available front yard space if the following xeriscape standards are met.

2) Ground Cover: If that variance is granted, yard areas can contain decomposed granite, ground hardwood mulch, crushed limestone, flagstone, or loose stone material for a ground cover that is maintained to prevent weed growth without using toxic or environmentally harmful chemicals.

Large areas may not be composed of a single material, i.e. bare mulch/rock is not allowed unless interspersed with plants. Concrete surfaces should be limited to driveways and sidewalks only. Additionally, loose rock placed in the sidewalk strip area (between sidewalk and curb) and if used in the front lawn must not wash out onto the public sidewalk or street. This may be prevented by ensuring rock level is lower than the curb.

3) Plant Bed Borders: Planted areas must be bordered to define beds. The areas that are not in delineated planted beds may be a drought tolerant ground cover such as some ivy varieties, a drought tolerant turf grass, or may be a flagstone or crushed stone courtyard. There must be borders in the yard that create visually appealing spacial relationships.

4) Sidewalk Strip: Residents should seriously consider converting sidewalk strip areas from turf grasses to xeriphytic materials and plants, since these areas are difficult to water without street runoff. This area may be composed of 100% rock or mulch to be consistent with materials in the yard.

5) Maintenance: Sickly and dying plants must be removed or replaced. This can be prevented by using plants adapted to the pH soil conditions created by the non-turf materials used. E.G. don’t use acid loving plants along with crushed limestone covering, wheras acid loving plants would thrive with a ground hardwood mulch. Xeriscaped areas must be maintained (plants kept trimmed and weeded) to ensure an attractive appearance. No plants may encroach on public sidewalks.

6) Decorative Objects: Hardscapes can include large boulders or other natural materials that are used as a part of the xeriphytic landscape design. The Architectural Review Committee prefers to see natural colored rock and masonry. No boulders or large rocks exceeding 12” in height may be used in the sidewalk strip area.

7) Safety: For public safety, no plant with thorns, spines, or sharp edges can be used within 6’ of the public sidewalk.

8) Irrigation: Xeriscaped areas may not have an active built in irrigation system as this defeats the purpose and water conservation is likely not achieved.



Template 2: (25% sod)

Xeriscape Standards for ________ HOA

Adopted (month) (year) by Master Board



Xeriscaping means using native and adaptive plants that can grow and sustain themselves in dry natural conditions such as those in Texas. Xeriscapes should need little to no water other than what is naturally occurring and tolerate heat and drought conditions. Since the passage of TX SB198 in June 2013, HOAs must not unreasonably restrict homeowners who desire a landscape that saves water. Under this new law, the following xeriscape standards set guidelines homeowners that decide to xeriscape in ____ HOA.

The advantages of xeriscaping include

  • Substantial cost savings on water bills
  • Conservation of diminishing water resources
  • Prevention of pollution from environmentally harmful run-off
  • Reduced yard maintenance requirements
  • Pride in knowing that you are protecting our fragile environment and limited resources
  • Aesthetic beauty and increased homeowner options for plant material

1) Turf area: _(name of HOA)_ will allow variances to the requirement for full green lawn (turf) areas up to 75% of available front yard space. Conversely, this means that at least 25% of the visible lawn area should contain a turf grass. It is preferred to choose a turf grass that has minimal water requirements. Choose turf that will survive in the amount of sun or shade it is situated in.

2) Ground Cover: If that variance is granted, non-turf areas can contain decomposed granite, ground hardwood mulch, crushed limestone, flagstone, or loose stone material for a ground cover that is maintained to prevent weed growth without using toxic or environmentally harmful chemicals. Large areas may not be composed of a single material, i.e. bare mulch/rock is not allowed unless interspersed with plants. Concrete surfaces should be limited to driveways and sidewalks only. Additionally, loose rock placed in the sidewalk strip area (between sidewalk and curb) and if used in the front lawn must not wash out onto the public sidewalk or street. This may be prevented by ensuring rock level is lower than the curb.

3) Plant Bed Borders: Non-turf planted areas must be bordered to define the xeriphytic area clearly from turfed areas.

4) Sidewalk Strip: Residents should seriously consider converting sidewalk strip areas from turf grasses to xeriphytic materials and plants, since these areas are difficult to water without street runoff. This area may be composed of 100% rock or mulch to be consistent with materials in the yard.

5) Maintenance: Sickly and dying plants must be removed or replaced. This can be prevented by using plants adapted to the pH soil conditions created by the non-turf materials used. E.G. don’t use acid loving plants along with crushed limestone covering, wheras acid loving plants would thrive with a ground hardwood mulch. Xeriscaped areas must be maintained (plants kept trimmed, weeded, and borders edged) to ensure an attractive appearance. Perennials that go dormant in the winter should be cut back during the winter to look neat. No plants may encroach on public sidewalks.

6) Decorative Objects: Hardscapes can include large boulders or other natural materials that are used as a part of the xeriphytic landscape design. The Architectural Review Committee prefers to see natural colored rock and masonry or masonry that matches the existing house color. Water features, Urns, and other man-made ornamentation can add variety but not to exceed 4 items in public view. No boulders or large rocks exceeding 12” in height may be used in the sidewalk strip area.

7) Safety: For public safety, no plant with thorns, spines, or sharp edges can be used within 6’ of the public sidewalk.

8) Irrigation: Xeriscaped areas may not have an active built in irrigation system as this defeats the purpose and water conservation is likely not achieved.



**The above xeriscape guidelines were largely modeled after those of Avery Ranch HOA in Austin, Texas. The above thoughtfully reflect many of the concerns of HOAs in a simple and direct manner.

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