By: Cameron Stark
Colorado Senate Bill 23-178 has been signed into law and takes effect on August 7, 2023. It requires Associations to adopt rules concerning water-wise landscaping, but it is important to note this bill only applies to communities with single-family detached homes. This bill does not apply to condominium units or townhomes sharing one or more walls. The bill requires Associations to loosen guidelines on drought-tolerant plants, vegetable gardens, and the use of non-vegetative turf grass in backyards, in addition to adopting pre-approved garden designs.
Associations must now allow homeowners to install vegetable gardens in their front, side, or back yards, and these gardens can be a plot of ground or a raised soil bed. A vegetable garden is broadly defined and can include flowers, herbs, pollinator plants, leafy greens, and edible plants.
Associations will have to adopt at least three pre-approved garden designs from Colorado State University’s Plant Select website or from a local municipality, and post information regarding these pre-approved designs on its website. Homeowners will be able to use these pre-approved garden designs without going through the usual approval process.
The bill also requires Associations to loosen guidelines on xeriscaping. In addition to allowing nonvegetative turf grass in the backyard, Associations must allow homeowners a xeriscaping option that consists of 80% drought-tolerant plantings and requires no more than 20% hardscape.
Homeowners will be allowed to sue Associations for violating these new requirements and will be allowed to recover at least $500 after written notification to the Association and a 45-day cure period. Importantly, Associations are still allowed to place restrictions regarding safety and fire buffers, and may prohibit changes to existing grading and drainage.
We encourage Associations to begin discussing these changes, look through the Colorado State University Plant Select website designs, and update Association websites as soon as possible to ensure compliance beginning in August. In addition, Associations should update their Xeriscaping policy, or adopt one if needed.
VF Law is currently offering educational courses on SB 23-178 and other Legislative Updates. Contact Hayden at [email protected] to schedule a seminar. Our attorneys at VF Law are available to update policies and answer any questions you may have.