Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

HOA Roadblocks

I bought a home where the backyard was a disaster and the front would need some work as well. I went in knowing I had a project ahead, but then I found out the Homeowners Association (HOA) rules looked as complicated as the U.S. Tax Code. My first road block was reading the rules. Sure, I should have read all 184 pages of the CC&Rs but the first few paragraphs resulted in a coma inducing face-plant. In short, the HOA requires the submission of landscape planning diagrams prior to any changes made to the landscape of homes in the neighborhood. The next road block was having to create a packet that would include the design and it’s relation to the house, elevation, plant mapping, detailed identification, cement plans, and other external structure documentation. In addition, the packet would have to be reviewed and signed off by each of my surrounding neighbors.

The final road block, to be able to improve my own yard, was the submission of the packet of landscape planning diagrams to the HOA Board and Architectural Review. For an average homeowner in the modern day, the pomp and circumstance of an HOA board meeting is probably the closest thing to a King’s court that I have experienced. First, I had to sign-in before the meeting in order to be able to speak. Then I sat quietly and listened to procedural minutia. Finally, I got a chance to plead my case before the “honorable” chairman and the other board members.

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Thankfully, I started my project using SmartDraw. Before getting started, I watched a video that made the task of creating landscape plans look easy. I began by measuring my lot and the space in which my home occupies. Certain areas of the property are maintained by the HOA, so I didn’t need to modify those. However, it’s best to show the property and landscape in relation to those areas. The idea is to detail the outside of the home, so it is almost the opposite of a floor plan.

Backyard Landscape Plan

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

SmartDraw Tip: With SmartDraw’s symbol library, I was able to choose from hundreds landscape symbols such as trees, plants, and ground covering. Each landscape symbol can easily be re-sized perfectly to fit whatever dimensions you require. In addition, you can determine whether you want to display or hide the dimensions of objects within any landscape or floor plan diagram.

Front Yard Landscape Plan

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

SmartDraw Tip: Inserting a table with plant identification is easy. Simply navigate to the Table Ribbon, determine the number of rows and columns, then click Tables.

Elevation Landscape Plan

The requirements also include elevation plans. This is basically looking at the property from the side instead of from above as you do with a floor plan. The nice thing is that SmartDraw makes it easy to fill shapes and modify them. I especially like the option to fill with brick, stone, or grass textures which makes the drawing look realistic.

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

Armed with my packet of landscape plans I got to know my neighbors a little better. Each of my neighbors wanted to know how I created such impressive diagrams. I told them about SmartDraw. They were glad to know such a product existed since they knew they would have to go through the same process when they want to make changes to their yard some day. The architectural approval came quickly since the landscape diagrams I made were so detailed and accurate. This was not the case with the HOA Board. The HOA Board insisted on a minor change just to make sure I knew who was in charge. In the end, they said these were the best drawings they had ever seen submitted by a homeowner.

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‘Before’ Photograph of Backyard Landscaping

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

‘After’ Photographs of Backyard and Front Yard Landscaping

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw

I’m pleased with the way the project turned out and I’m enjoying the garden, grass, extended patio, and shade. I can’t say that I’m too excited to do another project just yet. But when I do, SmartDraw will be right there with me from the designing and planning to the final prints for review. Whenever I need to create landscape planning diagrams, I know SmartDraw will help me cut through the red tape and get my project finished with style.

Cut Through Landscape Planning Red Tape with SmartDraw Author:Mark Sulzen

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About the author

Serg LietoSerg Lieto

Home improvement copywriter and fulltime content manager.