Home Environmental education Aesthetic pair, environmental stewardship | Letters to the Editor

Aesthetic pair, environmental stewardship | Letters to the Editor


The term “HOA” (Homeowners Association) is often used as a shorthand for barren turf, cookie-cutter houses and fussy neighbors. But in the villages of Urbana in southern Frederick County, our HOA has overturned old stereotypes by restoring the heavily developed lands that are typical of HOA neighborhoods. New state law should help continue these efforts.

As of October 1, Law HB322 (also known as the Low Impact Landscaping Act) prohibits communities and HOAs from requiring sod or prohibiting environmentally friendly gardening. . With the blessing of the Maryland State Legislature, HOAs and homeowners can and should combine aesthetics with environmental stewardship.

Use our HOA for inspiration: Organized in large part by the group we founded, Green Team Urbana, this year we installed 1,000 native plants in a 3,500 square foot community pollinator garden; designed an educational exhibit on the accompanying pollinator garden; planted and maintained 1,000 native trees with Stream-Link Education; helped organize children’s “Nature Backpacks” – complete with binoculars, ID books, magnifying lenses and more – available for verification at our HOA office; led tours of gardens and forests for pollinators for Scout troops eager to earn badges and experience the great outdoors; and added 750 clods of native plants to our woodlands.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in the realization of this work. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of community management, the involvement of our HOA’s landscaping contractor, and the membership of other community groups. No one person – and no HOA – can single-handedly tackle biodiversity loss, pollinator decline, extreme weather events and pollution. We all need to reconsider the management of our common spaces and our own private courtyards.

To paraphrase the famous entomologist Doug Tallamy: our sites can no longer simply “be pretty”. They must feed and shelter wildlife, manage water, filter the air and sequester carbon. Even as we celebrate last year’s successes in our HOA, we encourage our neighbors to install native plants, assess proposals to manage the invasive plants that threaten the 300 acres of woodland our residents enjoy, and research alternatives. to the large-scale lawn. care that does not include herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Our HOA is proof of this: it is possible to maintain beautiful neighborhoods – and real estate values ​​- while protecting our planet. Will your community cling to perfect turf or embrace the literally invigorating beauty of eco-friendly landscapes?

Bethany Adams and Carey Murphy