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Letting your front lawn go au naturel in parts of this desert city c

May 8, 1997

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Letting your front lawn go au naturel in parts of this desert city could land you in court.

The homeowners association of Towne Park, a residential community, took one of its own residents to court when she ripped up her lawn to replace it with landscaping native to the Southwest. The association said the move broke an agreement under which the house was purchased, called a covenant, prohibited landscaping changes without the association’s consent.

The unidentified woman said she was just trying to be a good citizen by replacing bluegrass _ which is not native to the area and sucks up dwindling water reserves _ with water-conserving, native plants.

Even Albuquerque’s mayor supports the use of so-called xeriscape, and the city has a program to encourage lawn replacement.

``To actively oppose a policy which supports the health, safety and welfare of the city and bring legal action against a good citizen to me is absolutely absurd,″ said Anita Miller, attorney for the woman.

Some of her neighbors see it differently.

``This little bit of grass made this community different from other communities,″ Towne Park board member Joseph Gironda said. ``Practically everybody who purchased out here purchased with the understanding that there would be grass in the front lawns.″

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