SAN ANTONIO -

A new state law now in effect gives homeowners more freedom to conserve water and money and limits the power of homeowners associations to stop them.

Senate Bill 198 says HOAs cannot restrict homeowners from composting, installing rain barrels or a rainwater harvesting system, implementing efficient irrigation systems or creating drought-resistant landscaping.

"It's pretty discouraging when you see your water bill go up and your grass still dying," said west side homeowner Dan Garcia.

Garcia was fed up with a fried lawn, so he began a xeriscaping project in late spring to cut down on watering his yard.

"Rock was a nice alternative. A lot of people do a gravel, a decomposed granite or something like that," he said.

Garcia also installed rain barrels to conserve water by reusing what he collects.

His HOA had no problem with the projects in his backyard, but installing a rain barrel in his front yard has been a little tougher.

"It has to be obstructed from view," said Garcia. "So people from the street, the letter said, aren't supposed to be able to see it. But it's a 50-or-so-gallon barrel -- kind of hard to hide behind anything, really."

Garcia hopes this new law will give him a little more leeway.

"Cut down on lawn mowing, cut down on weeding, using gas, using water. If we can cut down on those things and still enjoy our lawn, I'll be happy. My wife will be happy," said Garcia.

SAWS says it was a big supporter of the bill and is glad to see it become law.

Starting Sept. 15, SAWS will allow customer to sign up for a $100 coupon to get rid of 200 square feet of grass and plant something in its place.

This will be the second time SAWS has offered a coupon program.

The first offer ended July 31. SAW says 2,000 people took advantage of the coupon.

Some HOAs will still require homeowners to submit landscaping changes before making them.

It is best to check with your HOA first.

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.