Shrubs and Gardens and Trees, Oh My!!

The focus of Carolina Plantations, for 16 years, has been helping people determine if Coastal North Carolina is where they want to retire. At the same time, most of the communities in this area are not age-restricted; most act-like communities are 55 and over. (By the way, we tend to like kids and grandchildren!)

Tulips and green grass on both pictures and shrubs

A common question heard over the years is, “am I allowed to plant my flowers or vegetables at my new home?” The answer is overwhelming, YES; however, there are some notable restrictions.


  • Small, innocuous gardens are generally permitted if you own your yard
  • If you want more than a small garden, you generally need to fill out an application and spell out your desires and provide a design to your HOA (Homeowners Association) for approval
  • If you live in a shared residence, such as a townhome or condo, your leeway will be less, if at all
  • Extensive gardens are almost always out of the question
  • With regards to vegetables, use common sense. Beans, tomatoes, carrots, and the like are acceptable. However, tall corn and orange trees would probably not be allowed


  • Adding and deleting shrubs also follow the rules in planned communities, as one person’s idea of a small shrubbery and another may not match
  • Adding to the attractiveness of your home and yard is encouraged, that is, up to a point. A couple of smaller rose bushes or gardenias here and there are fine. However, 20 pink azaleas would not be ok unless your HOA approves the shrubs and the location of which will be planted


  • For those who can own their property in a planned community, the general rule of thumb is that you can take down or plant a tree that is 6” or less in diameter
  • Larger than that, or multiple trees, and you will need your HOA’s approval too
  • Almost every tree’s planting or removal must be done if you live in a condo or townhome. Have permission from your HOA. The planting of such trees, if approved, is also the responsibility of the HOA, not the homeowner

Porch Gardens

  • One way to get around digging up the yard is to use planters
  • If they are not too large or obnoxiously big, you can set these on your back patio or porch and have at it
  • There are restrictions on planters if they are on the side or front of the homes, as nobody wants to drive down the street of a lovely community and see that an entire front porch is filled with planters of 8’ tall climbing roses. Again, common sense generally prevails
cars in front yard of a home and ufo thing in a yard


Every planned community has an HOA. The HOA has on file a set of printed documents known as “Protective Covenants.” Some are still called or referred to as “Restrictive Covenants,” but the intention of these guidelines is:

  1. To protect the rights of all homeowners.
  2. To spell out what the rules and guidelines are for the community.
  3. To outline the governance of these rules. And by the way, most states recognize Homeowner Associations as having the ability to place liens on neighbor’s homes legally. You cannot ignore HOA, for if you do, there will be a price to pay. It is like ignoring parking tickets – the fees and fines add up, and legal action often follows.

Some people visit us from time to time, and when they learn about HOAs and how they can be somewhat restrictive, they get defensive and indicate that they will never live in a community where they are told what to do. Well, do your research because if you move to a community with no HOA or protective covenants, your neighbors can probably do anything they like, such as parking cars in the front yard, raising chickens, building ugly fences, and vice versa. The zoning laws outside of planned communities in America can vary widely. However, your view is to see many things you never thought you’d see driving one day to your nice picket fence home.

Carolina Plantations is ready to help you find your home with a yard that you can add your own touch to. Give us a call today to get started on that search.

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