Do you live in an HOA and are thinking about removing your turf? Here are some answers to your frequently asked questions.  

*Please be sure to follow your HOA's procedures for landscape renovation and design approval before starting any garden design or turf removal project.*

Frequently Asked Questions about Your HOA


Can my HOA fine me for not watering my landscape or letting my grass go brown?

No.  HOAs are prohibited by state law from fining residents who allow their vegetation or lawns to turn brown during a declared drought emergency pursuant to section 4735 of the Civil Code. 

My HOA says they will fine me for using artificial turf and/or drought-friendly plants. Can they do that?

HOAs can not prohibit the use of artificial turf or the use of low water-using plants as a group.  Under Section 4735 of the California Civil Code, provisions of an HOA’s government documents (CC&Rs, etc) which prohibit the use of artificial turf or low water-using plants as a group are void and unenforceable.  It is important to note that within the restraints of Section 4735, an HOA may still apply landscaping rules within its governing documents.  This means that an HOA may establish reasonable design and quality restrictions about the type of artificial turf a homeowner can use and the type of low water-using plants that can be installed as long as the restrictions do not effectively make it impossible for a homeowner to install artificial turf or low water-using plants.  

Can my HOA place restrictions on my drought-friendly garden design?

Yes. Homeowners must still follow HOA rules and guidelines regarding landscape design, as long as the guidelines do not violate the laws established in  Section 4735 of the Civil Code, which allows for low water-use plants, artificial turf, and the elimination of watering vegetation or lawns. HOAs may still have guidelines that fall within these parameters, such as requiring a certain percentage of groundcover, quantity of plants, or a specific plant palette. 

Can my HOA charge me a fee to review design plans for a drought-friendly garden?

Yes.  Many HOAs require a fee to review new landscape designs and plans.  To determine if your HOA has the authority to charge you a fee to review design plans, please reference your HOA’s governing documents (CC&Rs, etc).

Can IRWD help enforce legislation?

IRWD cannot provide legal advice or recourse; its role is limited to education and outreach on drought-friendly practices and resources. IRWD will continue to work with local residents and HOAs to make sure both parties are in compliance with Section 4735 of the Civil Code and Emergency Conservation Regulations enforced by the State Water Resources Control Board.  

Is IRWD working with HOAs to help them understand the need to conserve water during a drought? 

Yes, IRWD actively works with and educates HOAs on the importance of reducing water use, especially when state-mandated water use reductions are in place. Part of the District’s education efforts include informing HOAs about current legislation. If you are on your HOA’s board, contact  IRWD Water Efficiency staff to provide a presentation on the drought at your next board meeting. 

Where can I get design ideas for a drought-friendly garden?

Check out Landscape Resources for drought-friendly landscape designs or sign up for a free workshop