|The yard (Photo by Jason Andrew, The New York Times)|
A wise man once said, “The only thing more challenging than your lawn is your neighbor’s lawn.” Disputes over property maintenance are one reason some people prefer to live in rural areas; the disputes can range from quibbles to outright battle zones, but it’s a rare lawn dispute that leads to a groundbreaking state law.
The Crouches were not willing to tear up their nature haven without a fight that cost them $60,000. “They hired a lawyer and contacted every wildlife and environmental group they could think of, along with local legislators,” Buckley reports. They filed a lawsuit, and two months later, “a Maryland state representative asked if they would allow their case to form the basis of a new environmental law. . . . A bill was drafted that forbade homeowner associations from banning pollinator plants or rain gardens, or from requiring property owners to plant turf grass. The measure gained bipartisan support, passed with near unanimity, and became law in October 2021.“
Mary Catherine Cochran, former legislative director for Delegate Terri L. Hill, told Buckley that “Maryland law was the first in the country to limit homeowner-association control over eco-friendly yards.”
“Lawns make up one-third of the country’s 135 million acres of residential landscaping,” ecologist Douglas W. Tallamy told Buckley. Tallamy, whose book, Nature’s Best Hope, urges homeowners to change their yards into conservation corridors told Buckley, “This idea that humans and nature cannot coexist is destroying the entire planet, which in turn is destroying humans. The only way forward is to coexist. . . . Now people know if they fight back, they can win.”