In water-short areas, is xeric gardening a way to go?

When Patricia Sankey bought her house, a vacant bank repossession in Nampa's Sherwood subdivision, there wasn't much left of the yard, she said, besides a "crunchy" mat of weeds and a long-dead tree listing at a 50-degree angle.

Her decision to rehab her long-derelict yard in a xeric style with river rock, bushes and container plants to save water and cut down on maintenance didn't sit well with the Sherwood Homeowners Association.

Terry Adams, a Sherwood spokeswoman, said Sankey didn't get proper approval for her landscape before installing it. This violated subdivision rules (CC&Rs, or "covenants, conditions and restrictions") that require homeowners to go through a landscape approval process - and to plant grass.

The association board wants Sankey to remove her river rock and install sod. While the CC&R requires grass, it does not specify how much.

"In my opinion, you could plant a foot square. But that would be provoking, and I don't want to do that," Sankey said.

The board recently rejected her proposal to install 100 square feet of grass as a compromise. The two sides, for now, are at an impasse.

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