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solstice98

Homeowners Assn Nasty Letter

solstice98
15 years ago

I'm the first to admit my garden always has some weeds, but I was shocked to receive one of those horrible letter from my homeowners association telling me my garden was unkempt and needed to be weeded and 'cut back'. My closest neighbors thought I was kidding when I told them - until I showed them the letter. Honestly, does this look so bad? I've spent the last couple days weeding the most obvious stuff like the edges of the borders and I have 6 yards of mulch coming tomorrow to cover up the rest. (First, a little Roundup in a few spots.) These pictures were all taken before any weeding was done. I really suspect the 'inspector' doesn't know much about cottage style gardens and he thinks my native plants and butterfly plants are all weeds! Is that possible?

I know it isn't perfect but I don't think it rated the 'we can take legal action if you don't attend to it in 10 days' letter. I think it's pretty and the butterflys and hummingbirds love it. There are neighbors who tell me they always walk by the garden just to see what's blooming. That hardly sounds like I'm being offensive!

Good thing he couldn't see the pot ghetto!!!

I don't know if I should laugh or cry or dig it all up and plant grass.

Weedy, Unkempt (i.e. Wild?) Kate

Comments (60)

  • tannatonk23_fl_z9a
    15 years ago

    Sorry you are having to deal with this. Don't get me started on HOA's! Your yard is just lovely. I would love to have that look! Your honeysuckle coral is perfect and what a nice spot to sit and watch the world go by. And your "head" pot is just too cute!

    Wasn't it Nicki that had the fight with the "authorities" over a cottage garden? I don't know that I ever heard how that played out. Maybe she has some advise?

    I think it should be mandatory that every HOA should have gardeners sitting on the board.

    Good luck and let us know how the battle goes.

    Betsy

  • rachel5810
    15 years ago

    I too think your garden is beautiful.

    I agree with sooth. These neighborhoods have at least one nazi neighbor and they probably complained. I have a gardening neighbor who goes nuts all over including her front yard. Unlike her in all her bravery I will not anger the HOA gods and as of right now will not garden in the front. I have redone the actual beds but won't dig more in. I will garden behind the scenes in my backyard for now.

    Good luck and I would make them come out and show me what they mean.

    Rae

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  • laura1
    15 years ago

    Betsy I agree about a gardener being on the HOA board. I had a MG friend who was on her board. Her yard was a jungle...I thought it was somewhat messy. But she managed to get away with it. It probably helped that her husband was an attorney! Anyway I think I might be that gardener on the HOA board when the time comes.

  • lellie
    15 years ago

    Looks good ta me!
    ...and as long as your 'wildlife's happy...then, pfffttt!
    LOL!!!

  • tony_k_orlando
    15 years ago

    They got the WRONG address...... double check it.

  • nikkers
    15 years ago

    Your garden looks great to me. I agree when people say some HOA expect only "boxes, lollipops and gumdrops" in front of your house. Personally, I find that look artificial, sterile and incredibly boring. I would not want to live in that community.
    I once lived in a condo that had such stringent rules that I got a citation for a hand made sign (8-1/2 x 11) made by my granddaughter that she taped to my front door saying "happy bithday grandma". She wanted to surprise me when I got home from work. All I could say is that someone should GET A LIFE!
    I can't wait to move to the boonies where I could run amuck and plant what I want, where I want and if I get too many weeds, I can turn the goats and geese loose to weed and feed. LOL
    Jo

  • solstice98
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    I'm sitting here at work, reading your comments and grinning. Thanks for the support.

    We do have a neighborhood nazi but this wasn't generated by her. Apparently the administrative assistant for the homeowners management company was receiving complaint calls on a few other things in the 'hood and he decided to go out and do a block by block survey himself. Hundreds of letters went out on everything from gardens, to dirty driveways, to unpainted fences. Oh yeah, and mildew on screen room enclosures and too many dead/hanging palm fronds. He was a bit overzealous, I think. One neighbor received a warning about having an "unauthorized bird house" in their front yard! (Nicki, are you reading this?!?!?!) Apparently he has the support of his supervisor.

    I'm not inviting this idiot over to talk about the yard because I don't think I could spend 15 minutes with him without ending up in jail.

    I will totally ignore the letter and not send any response. I understand the rhetoric and know they will not pursue these issues with an attorney (other than unpaid homeowners dues, of course). However, I'm still pi$$ed off about the whole thing.

    My revenge will be to have a garden so beautiful that if they have to call in an expert to support their case against me, the expert will break down in tears of joy when he/she gazes upon my yard.

  • butterflygardener
    15 years ago

    Gimme a freeeeekin' break!!! I think your yard is ta-die-for!!! I agree with the others. Nothing wrong in your yard!
    Kat

  • cindeea
    15 years ago

    Good old "Condo Comandos" or "Neighborhood Nazis" bored little people with nothing better to do with their llives than to tell others how they want them to live. That is one reason we did not build in an HOA community. You and your home are beautiful Kate....send some bumble bees their way!

  • nami
    15 years ago

    Kate your yard looks perfect - it exemplifies Florida landscaping lush and beautiful. I love the variety of plants in it. And your turf looks really well manicured. What are they referring to as unkempt. I don't get that. Your beds are so colorful, your palm trees are fine, do you have any hedges? I dont see any in the photos.

    HOAs exist for a purpose, policing peopl'es yards should not be one of them. I am on the board of directors for my HOA and we recently sent a (polite) letter to a homeowner who had weeds in his yard that were almost as tall as me. Now that is a problem.

    Maybe you have one of those people on your board who prefer the cookie cutter alikeness of all yards in the subdivision.

    Pretend that you didn't get the letter. And next time vote for someone else LOL!

  • Nicki
    15 years ago

    Aaaaah ha! I see I have a cell mate when they finally throw my illegal gardening butt in jail! How criminal we are to have plants over 4 feet tall! We are rebels. They won't take us without a fight!

    Seriously, doesn't it just make your heart sink when you get one of those nasty letters. Mine was from the all-knowing City. I think a HOA is worse. Can't they take the deed to your house, or something truly evil like that?

    I know your garden is wonderful. I've seen it in person, and it is absolutely delightful and creative. People who hand out these nasty letters about gardens aren't gardeners, and they don't know the first thing about plants, nor do they care your garden is more environmentally friendly than the typical lawn. They are scum of the earth.

    Have him inspect when you get your mulch in. Insist that he come at a time when you're home. Give him the tour, kill him with kindness - don't get emotional. If all else fails, club him with your shovel and toss him in the compost pile. I think that was a suggestion someone gave me. :) I liked it very much. :) While he's "inspecting" your garden, picture him naked covered in stinging fireants. Call him names in your mind (I like Inspector Ima Jerkoff, personally), all while you're smiling sweetly. Thinking about these things will make you smile and seem very friendly.

    If you have to, get your neighbors to sign a petition and take it to the next board meeting. Bring as many neighbors as you can. Meanwhile get your garden certified as a national wildlife habitat. That was great advice I was given.

    It seems my situation is resolved. I have a friend who knows the City Manager, and he talked to him about my plight (I ended up getting two threatening letters). The City Manager said he knew exactly which house was mine, and that it looked great. He said not to worry about it anymore, that some people just don't have common sense. So far, so good.

    The thing is, these types are control driven, and they'll want you to do something to appease them. Maybe you should consider getting yourself on the Board. Power, Baby. Think of all the power!

    Hang in there. Try not to let it bum you out too much. I can't believe how much it affected me. You have our support. Keep us updated.

    Nicki

  • AmberSky
    15 years ago

    I know I broke down in tears of joy (And envy) when I saw your garden, and it is only lovlier now.

    No homeowners association for me. No deed restrictions. I admire your patience almost as much as I admore your garden.

  • msmarion
    15 years ago

    When they pay my mortgage then they can tell me what to do. That's what DH told them after we were told the color of our doors (purple) were not an earth tone. The HOA had not been active in five years, so that makes them null and void and the earth tone clause refered to houses that were stucco. I also reminded them about purple mountains and twlight. Then they complained that the sideing on our shed didn't match the house. Give me a break! If you have so much time on your hands volunteer at a school and teach a kid to read. Geez

    Kate I love your yard and gardens. It looked spectacular the day of your swap and the pics look fab.
    Marion

  • acoreana
    15 years ago

    ro ro rorge!!!

    Solstice, your yard is beautiful...it is the look I'm working towards. I live in an HOA community, and purchased a home with established hedges, a few large trees and large expanses of red lava rock. The only flowers were a 1/2 dozen annuals in three plastic planters have buried in the front bed. I've steadily added plant after plant in hopes of ending up with exactly the look you have. Now, my tummy feels queezy @ the thought of enduring what you are. I sure hope you can get he situation straightened out.

    You may need to go directly to the HOA and request they come out and see the property for themselves. This will give you an opportunity to explain what the plants are, etc.

    My understanding is that the HOA/manager must react to complaints by the residents. Someone who is a fan of strictly lawn, concrete, and lava rock landscapes may have complained because...well...they're crabby, I guess.

    Geez, I'm going to scroll back up and read everyone's responses...I feel for ya!

    Best of luck,

    Nat

    I was going to ask if you had the 1/2 dozen or so homes in your community w/ severely damaged "lawns", and unkempt, dead bushes, etc. that somehow the HOA's overlook...but I know the answer I think, and that frustrates me even more!

  • acoreana
    15 years ago

    Meant to say "half" buried plastic plants :-).

    Read your response Solstice, and understand a bit better...I agree that ignoring it for now is the way to go.

    Additionally, I think zozzl is on to something with the xeriscaping, Florida friendly defense, and I'm keep that in mind for future use! (I'm planning on putting in several sand chordgrasses in the near future, and am expecting someone to complain :-D, as all my new privacy in the back will be quite enviable I think, lol.)

    Nat

  • tropicalfreak
    15 years ago

    The first pic looks like something out of a magazine!! I love it!! Wow!! Nice job...

    Cliff

  • tropicalfreak
    15 years ago

    Kate,

    Maybe you could get your friend form the Sentinel that cam to your swap and did a story, to do a story about Garden Styles and HOA's to help educate somehow. Seriously the people that run HOA's need to get off their little power trips and educate themselves. If they wasn to control people tell them to get a job at a jail.
    Tropcialfreak

  • manature
    15 years ago

    Kate, I'm shocked speechless! (And you KNOW how much it would take to render ME speechless!) Every bed is edged neatly with green, green grass right up to it. All the beds are colorful and vibrant, and if the flowers are contained within the margins of each bed, which they are...as opposed to running rampant across the entire yard...then what the heck are they complaining about?

    I think you are right in ignoring the letter for now. You have weeded and neatened up the beds themselves now, so the HOA should just go away like a bad dream! (This is why I refuse to live in an area that has one...I'm way too rebellious for that.) If you get a SECOND letter even after all the weeding you have done, then would be the time to have them send a committee over to talk to you about specifics in each bed. You can educate them on the difference between flowers and WEEDS, thankyouverymuch.

    In the meantime, just know that I'm truly amazed. With Nicki's yard, I could at LEAST understand that some people truly don't understand exuberant cottage gardens with no lawns in sight. I mean, even though he was TOTALLY wrong, the whole "no-grass, all-flowers" thing is a concept that often puzzles non-gardeners. But your yard looks perfectly at home for your type of community, and I just don't get what they are talking about.

    If worse comes to worst, we...your devoted GW buddies...will come to your house bearing spades, hoes, rakes and other implements of death and destruction, and stand by your side for the showdown!!

    Marcia

  • lakeron
    15 years ago

    Marcia
    Don't forget the pitchforks! We can't storm the castle without pitchforks!
    But seriously, when you think about how many forums there are on GW you realize how many different styles of gardens there are. And IMHO all are more beautiful than a putting green.
    ron

  • mistiaggie
    15 years ago

    Bring out a zillion garden magazines and ask them if any of them are weedy. I mean, the cottageyest of cottage gardens. I swear, people are dumbarses.

    Your yard is gorgeous!

  • goldenpond
    15 years ago

    Please go to Florida Yards and Neighborhoods and Florida Friendly Yards websites and print some of their informtion. Also the IFAS websites and scrounge around for stuff to back up your style of gardening. It looks great I too would never last in a commie community. Check out my albums!{{gwi:509792}}http://community.webshots.com/user/blondeponder

  • Nicki
    15 years ago

    You know - I think you're right, Kate. Just ignore it for now. Although I like the idea of picturing him naked covered in stinging ants... It brings me a dark kind of pleasure... ;-) And hey, you can do that without having him on your property. I think we all need a "Code Enforcer" voodoo doll.

    Oh gawd. Can you imagine what they'd do to me if I lived in your neighborhood? I ripped out a perfectly good St. Augustine lawn and planted a bunch of "overgrown weeds". I must be insane... lock me up! smirk.

    I really like the idea about the reporter doing a story about gardens and HOA.

    Nicki

  • manature
    15 years ago

    Amen, Ron! Give me flowers any day! And I'm sharpening the tines on my pitchfork as we speak (don't think it isn't hard to type at the same time, either!). I'll be ready for the bastages when need be!! Kate, we are prepared, Dear Heart! No retreat, no surrender!!!

    Marcia (right there with ya, Nicki...rippin' up more grass every day!)

  • JoanM
    15 years ago

    Oh man! I would never ever live with an HOA. I just couldn't imagine being dictated to like that.

  • coffeemom
    15 years ago

    THIS POST IS MAKING MY HEAD HURT!!!!!!!
    So basically some administration-type went around and found something wrong at every house. To justify his job perhaps? Our HOA nazi is the volunteer code enforcer. She drives around and makes a note if your roof needs cleaning or you need to pull the weeds from your pavers. My messy overgrown butterfly garden is right up front and I'm really surprised she hasn't tried to shut me down. I do have my wildlife cert sign out front and I thot I might get cited for that,too. They are so clueless.
    You may have to go to an actual meeting(the horror, the horror)and act like you have no idea what they are talking about, to find out what it is they want.
    OR you can threaten to open your yard to the gardening homeless and when we come up for the swap, we'll bring tents. At-tic-a! At-tic-a!

  • nami
    15 years ago

    Count me in as another person trying to get rid of Sod - why on earth would I want to spend the time and money to mow and fertilize grass month after month when i can have flowers. Not to mention the water bills around here. Even if I cant get rid of ALL the grass i'd atleast try to get rid of some.

    What weeds have you planted in your yard Nicki? I'd like to get some of those!

    Good luck to you Kate!

  • lynne_melb
    15 years ago

    Kate,

    Add me to the shocked list. I just can't believe it. Your yard is so beautiful.

    I don't know how your HOA works, but my neighbor and I have found two different tactics that work well for such imagined egregious offenses as bird poop on the mailbox.

    She sends a calm but firm letter thanking them for the letter about the "possible" violation, and the corrective action that has been taken.

    I call the Management Company to get more details, and then tell them how we are going to address the situation. I am so sweet and agreeable that I canÂt stand myself.

    Anyway, both approaches work well. Mine has bought me a lot of time when we had some sprinkler problems and it took quite a while for me to find someone to fix it.

    I like BihaiÂs suggestion.

    Hope you can see the humor in this someday.

    Lynne

  • jardinerafloridana
    15 years ago

    Kate,
    Your yard is picture perfect. The HOA don't know what they are talking about. It is beautiful.
    Jardinera

  • trinigemini
    15 years ago

    Kate,

    I can only hope that one day my yard looks as weedy and overgrown as yours....its gorgeous...

  • myfask
    15 years ago

    naplesgardener
    I am on the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods" program committee here in Jax. It is so much fun goign around looking at gardens. One tip I will give you is make sure your mulch is the proper distance from the base of the trees and plants.
    That seems to be the one thing that has prevented us form giving out the cert.

    I had a very interesting chat with the property manager for our HOA the other day when he was out doing his monthly visit.
    We have some really bad lawns dead ares,knee high weeds so I asked why can't we just do something.
    I was suprised by his answer. He said nowdays the courts and judges are on the side of the homeowner. He said we can file and then the courts want it to go to mediation then if the homeowner doesn't comply, it would go back to the judge and still the chances of getting the problem solved is slight.

    I would just ignore the letter or call the property manager ans ask why you recieved a letter.
    You lawn and gardens are beautiful I wouldn't change a thing

    karla

  • kelpie473
    15 years ago

    I agree with everyone that your landscaping is beautiful and wish you lived next door to me. I wanted to suggest thinking about labels for all (or most) of your plants. My idea is that if you have things labeled then you would be able to say "weed? what weed?? show me! you mean my .....?" as you casually show off the carefully lettered label. All of us know that weeds are only plants that are out of place but the non-gardeners don't. A label might make the plants look more "important" than a mere weed. I'd also suggest finding out what the others who received a letter are doing about them.

    Management companies can be fun to deal with in their own way like HOAs. In our line of work we do have to deal with both of them all the time, usually HOAs are the problem but there have been some ignorant people at management companies. The best thing about them is that they move regularly so those trouble-makers may be gone soon.

    Suzanne

  • solstice98
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    All are great suggestions and I thank you for your creativity, but I think I favor Nicki's idea - the one involving the club, the compost pile and the fire ants.

    If that doesn't work, we'll definitely go with the pitchforks and tent village. At-tic-a! At-tic-a!

  • bradisha
    15 years ago

    The HOA must be joking Solstice.I am with Tony K,I think they have the wrong address. Your home and garden is just beau-ti-ful

  • naplesgardener
    15 years ago

    It came to me:
    "Illegitimi non carborundum"
    That might make a nice garden plaque.

  • tropicalfreak
    15 years ago

    English please, naplesgardener : )

  • solstice98
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    It translates to "Don't let the b@$^@#&$ get you down".
    Very funny! And I agree it makes a great plaque.

    I've always liked this one:
    "Parilis fimus, diversus dies"

  • lakeron
    15 years ago

    Hey Gang,
    Heather (hmp2z) is being pressured by her 'landscaper' to plant grass. Check her post 'Struggling vainly against traditional lawn' posted just an hour ago.
    Am sure she can use all support and info we can provide.

  • maureen155
    15 years ago

    Kate -

    I think your plan to ignore this is very wise. It gives them all the consideration they deserve.

    "Damnant quod non intelligunt"

    I'd love to show your HOA representative my yard (including the dead boat growing something icky inside it that's sitting just outside my fence.) Makes me giggle just to think of it.

    Maureen

  • deborahmc52
    15 years ago

    Kate..I thought it was a joke at first!! Ridiculous!! Count me in on the showdown..and espec if you have another swap..lol ;>) Hugs to ya, Debbie

  • teka2rjleffel
    15 years ago

    I agree with Marion, when they pay the bills.... I really think that HOA's have overstepped their bounds all over Florida (probably other states too.) I think there is a reporter out there looking for an interesting story. How about 'Abuse of Power by HOA's' Your yard is lovely and not offensive in anyone's book. So it is the perfect one to use for this article. Call a reporter in your area. That would really make the idiot look like, well, an idiot. I bet it would bring out others who have been abused and de-thrown him.
    Nancy

  • wanna_run_faster
    15 years ago

    a month (all different things) for three months but notDon't worry Kate, I think it just must be "mail out citation" time. I got home tonight and found 3 letters for citations for my Orlando home..."garbage can in driveway (near the door), lawn needs to be treated for possible chinch bug and plant bed needs to be weeded". Whatever! I will try to do what they request but if I get another letter my strategy for dealing with it with is if they give me 2 "citations" I give them 4! So for everything they tell me needs to be corrected on MY property, I tell them they need to address 4 on the property THEY are responsible for. Eventually they think you're nuts and avoid you like the plague! :)

  • kris10powell
    15 years ago

    Your garden is beautiful, I donÂt have a pitch fork right now but I am sure there is a hardware store on the way...

    Seriously, I am a Paralegal specializing in real estate and have seen 2 situations just like this (both same natzihood). After the homeowners had all they could stand with the letters we got involved and after a very nasty letter from our firm they dropped the citations.

    For the last 2 years I have been with a developer who specializes in creating these wonderful associations when they build "Master Planned Communities" 2 or 3 separate associations for the neighborhood and bla bla blaaah. I have seen some crazy demands within Declarations but I donÂt think your yard is what they had in mind...

    Trust me, this is much better than the one we had with a "community pool" the Declaration actually said if you have excessive ear wax you could not use the pool... who is going to inspect for that I wonder.

    Enjoy your garden, it is lovely.

    Kristen

  • manature
    15 years ago

    Oh, Kristen!! Excessive EAR WAX???? OMG! I'm laughing all over the place, here. Are HOA's out of control, or what!!???!!

    Marcia

  • cindeea
    15 years ago

    Kristen, that is PRICELESS! Obnoxious but priceless. I've always wondered why HOAs have to be made up of such imbeciles. I know my Dad (a former Federal Mediator) was voted on to the HOA at their condo here when he had retired and moved to be closer to me. He resigned after just a few months because of the shameless 'under the table' takes of some of it's members and their total interest in getting what THEY wanted, not always what was good for the community or the individuals that lived there. Hang in Kate-you have an amazing paradise and maybe they are just jealous.

  • Carol love_the_yard (Zone 9A Jacksonville, FL)
    15 years ago

    Unfortunately, a HOA-resident relationship is often viewed in the same manner as a parent-child or teacher-student relationship. Even thought they are both just neighborhood residents and the issue is a matter of different opinion/taste/preference, the HOA (the board, president, whoever) is deemed to be "right" - after all, they were elected! The opinions are not weighed on equal footing. You, as the lowly target of power going to someone's head, can either knuckle under or take on all the burden of making the other neighbors realize what you are going through and the craziness that has come about.

    For years, the president of our HOA was the Neighborhood Bully. I had the unfortunate situation of living smack next door to her. (Never, EVER would have bought the house had I known.) She would pick someone to bully and bully and bully - just to prove she could. (You need to clean your fascia, you need to pressure-wash your roof, you need to bleach your driveway, no potted plants allowed - no pots of ANY sort in the front OR back yard, did you see how much so and so drinks - look in her recycle bin!, etc, etc, etc.) Just a busy-body, know-it-all, misguided waste of good energy, neighborhood bully president. This woman kept her house in A-1 condition, but expected everyone else to spend 40 hours a week doing that, too. (She blew her driveway and sidewalk with the blower TWICE a day, every SINGLE day - does that tell you anything? She pressure-washed her roof - the inspector told her she took 10 years off the life of her roof doing that. The roof leaked in the big rain from Barry two weeks ago.)

    I made sure that every neighbor knew my plight and realized, "hey - open your eyes, because YOU MAY BE NEXT!" It worked - once they realized what a kook she was, she was voted out at the next election.

    There's lots more to the story - maybe I will tell it one day.

    -Carol

  • jupiterplants
    15 years ago

    Hence the term "geriatric playpens"

  • lakeron
    15 years ago

    love_the_yard - Carol, that was priceless. Pressure wash the roof and now it leaks. And we're just starting the rainy season. Be a shame if the local roofers got the impression that she was a 'slow-pay'. They may not get to her til Dec.
    Wonder if the blower hooks up to a wet-vac to keep the floors dry, twice a day. LOL
    ron

  • nyssaman
    15 years ago

    That's ridculous - sometimes I think people spend to much time near the dryer vent and their head fills up with dryer lint - I'd go spray "round up" all over their yard...lol - your yard looks fine - These are little people with tiny little souls that do that kind of thing - Go to her house or his house and speak your mind - these people crumble when confronted cause they are shells.

    Cheers from the great white north

    Jeff

  • gardenbrat72
    15 years ago

    Kate,

    Your gardens are beautiful. I'm glad I'm not in a HOA neighborhood, I would be locked up for awhile after one look at my yard. LOL.

    Kitiera(Brat)

  • scents_from_heaven
    15 years ago

    Not only will I bring my pitvhfork, but I will bring the weed killer to spray on the HOA nimcopoop. We all need to bring our gas masks so that we do not have to breeth the toxic fumes of the nazi dying. Hang in there, Kate. We are all behind, along side and if front of you. WE WILL OVERCOME! Linda