"After their homeowner association ordered them to replace their wildlife-friendly plants with turf grass, a Maryland couple sued. They ended up changing state law."
"COLUMBIA, Md. — Janet and Jeff Crouch do not know which flower or plant may have pushed their longtime next door neighbor over the edge, prompting him to pen complaint after complaint about the state of their yard.
Perhaps it was the scarlet bee balm that drew hummingbirds in darting, whirring droves. Or the swamp milkweed that Monarch butterflies feasted upon before laying their eggs. Or maybe it was the native sunflowers that fed bumblebees and goldfinches.
Whatever it was, their neighbor’s mounting resentment burst to the fore in the fall of 2017, in the form of a letter from a lawyer for their homeowner association that ordered the Crouches to rip out their native plant beds, and replace them with grass.
The couple were stunned. They’d lived on their quiet cul-de-sac harmoniously with their neighbors for years, and chose native plants to help insects, birds and wildlife thrive. Now the association was telling them that their plantings not only violated the bylaws, but were eyesores that hurt property values. “Your yard is not the place for such a habitat,” the letter read."
Cara Buckley reports for the New York Times with photographs by Jason Andrew December 14, 2022.