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RE Q&A: Can an Owner Stop Mowing and Let His Yard ‘Go Wild’?

Landscaping should be maintained out of respect for neighbors, but HOAs often have rules and local governments have laws that mandate levels of care.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: It is getting harder for me to cut the lawn and maintain my landscaping. I am thinking of going with more a “wild” look. Is there a reason that I should not? – Alex

Answer: There are several reasons why you cannot let your landscaping run wild that vary depending on where you live.

The first and perhaps the most essential reason is out of respect for your neighbors. Most people want to live in a nice neighborhood where all the properties are aesthetically pleasing. An unkempt property can bring down property values for your area and become an eyesore that hurts your neighbors’ enjoyment of their own property. Unkempt landscaping can draw pests, which can spread to nearby properties.

Many people live in homes governed by a community association. When you purchased your home in a planned development, you agreed to follow specific guidelines for the appearance of your house and the property. Not following them can lead to fines and other issues.

Even if you do not live in a planned community, your municipality will have ordinances governing the use and maintenance of your property. For example, you may need to keep your grass cut below a certain height and your hedges trimmed. Your city can issue fines of hundreds of dollars a day for breaking these rules.

Before making any decisions about changing the way you keep your land, you should review your community and city rules to make sure that you stay in compliance.

You do have some options, although it will require some upfront investment. Some areas allow you to keep your property in a more natural state as long as you follow certain guidelines. Your property must stay within the standards, but this will involve less maintenance.

Another option involves changing out your current landscaping for more manageable plants. Certain species of grass, bushes, and trees do not need to be trimmed very often, which can make it easier to keep your property looking good.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

© 2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.