About those Community Associations…


Clothes_2by Susan
You know how we’re always going on about community associations that mandate turfgrass, well watered and mowed?  Well, it’s no surprise that the overwhelming majority of them also regulate or ban clotheslines, despite the environmental benefits of using them, rather than energy-hog clothes dryers.  According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, both types of restrictions are “vestiges of trim and tidy hopes that may not fit with the renewed emphasis on going green.”  Further, the article reveals that 60 million Americans belong to 300,000 community associations, so they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with (and ranted about).

But at least for the clothesline restrictions, help is on the way.  There’s a Right To Dry movement afoot in the country, led by Project Laundry List.  It’s been working on the issue 8 years now and its list of directors and staff is seriously impressive, beginning with Helen Caldicott, founder of the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility.  Notice on their website they provide free teleconferencing and free use of PowerPoints for the cause, and other smart organizing tools.  Maybe they could help someone (us?) take on those mowing restrictions.  (Possible headline – “Bloggers start Right to Grow Movement.”  Sounds good to me!)

Our landscape architect friends at  The Dirt recently linked to the CSM story and made this suggestion:

On your next residential project, why not suggest a little area for clothes
drying outside? It can go right over there beside the koi pond, the
outdoor kitchen, the firepit, the play area for the dogs, and the
putting green!

Uh-huh, that’ll happen.  And here’s my own sour note of realism: I used to use a clothesline myself and if memory serves, my clothes were always wrinkled and stiff.  Which is why a certain boyfriend moving into my house demanded I buy a dryer, pronto. 

Photo Credit


  1. Oh, but the sheets smell so sweet and the towels dry you so much better…like a loofah with the added benefit of microdermabrasion which is so popular these days!

  2. Right on Layanee! I try to dry everything outside when I can. The stiff underwear does not feel stiff once you put it on, and the clothes do smell wonderful.

  3. I’m 1 of those people who can’t use a clothesline for health reasons: I’m allergic to pollens. Hanging things out to dry collects any pollens in the air and makes them cling to those clothes. However, anything that is not clothes, towels or sheets get hung out to dry.
    I would like to see associations remove their restrictions on clotheslines. At my parents’ place in Florida, they can’t even put their beach towels out to dry on their condo balcony (I do it anyway). The association doesn’t want the look of the building spoiled by towels, clothes or anything else hanging from the balconies, detracting from the uniformity of the building. Aesthetically, they have a point, but I can’t stop thinking of the energy wasted.

  4. Chuck – you could write the photographer, then let us know the answer. Looks to me like what I’ve seen in New Zealand, which they called Flowering Christmas Tree or something (it blooms at Christmastime there).

  5. Hey there Susan! Not only am I installing a clothes drying line in my yard, I’m playing with clever ideas to integrate them in some of my landscape projects. I just got back from a 3-week Canadian RV vacation and was warmed by the site of linen fluttering in the breeze throughout the byways of B.C. I saw a collapsible unit promoted in one of their home and garden magazines. I’ll track it down and post the link for you and your readers.

  6. Shirley, that would be great! My clothesline is the old standard two poles with three lines, and I would love to modernize. I do observe some rules: No clothes out on Sunday (remnant from my dear old Scandinavian Grandmother,) and I always take them down as soon as they are dry.

  7. I dry many items by hanging but never towels or jeans. I would not dream of putting delicate undies in the dryer.
    Most hang in the house drying on hangers on racks or on the shower rod.
    Way to many birds in my habitat garden. A big splat is always a danger. We even have a roof over the seating area now.
    My mom always had a line of clothes outside the back door. Everything would dry pretty fast and come down. The lines came out a second floor window and moved on rollers to the garage over everyones head. It was a common sight in our working neighborhood in the city. She used those lines right up to the end of her life.

  8. I love my $ 6.99 zip line retractable clothesline.
    It is mounted on a fence post and looks like an oversized automatic rewinding dog walking devise.
    When not in use the line zips back into its 8 inch diameter round disk like housing and is barely noticible.
    Last winter it did double duty in the garden when a strong storm blew in and knocked over a 12 foot tall red banana tree ( Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ ).
    I zipped out the plastic coated clothesline and tied the banana upright with it .
    It’s the weekend and it will be used as usual again to air dry the dog / beach towels, clothes, undies and sheets.
    In our dry warm summers it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to air dry the sheets vs. about 30 minutes in my electric dryer.
    This makes it way more energy efficient in more ways than one.

  9. I am with all those people who hang out their washing to dry. Sure the washing comes in crisp and wrinkly but it comes wrinkly out of the drier too. Apparently, drying clothes in sunshine kills things which driers just encourage.
    When I lived on the prairies we dried clothes on a line in the basement summer and winter – the humidity was very low. And it was there on a day when it was 39C humidity 15% that I dried a dripping wet heavy cotton dress in 30 minutes flat while my neighbour ran his drier and his air conditioner – makes sense, huh?
    And while we are on the subject of driers, why do people have to put those disgusting smelling conditioners into them. We get a lovely fine Saturday, a great day to spend in the garden and yoh, all over the neighbourhood driers start spewing out toxic fumes.

  10. I don’t see it happening at my place. Shades of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I just don’t like the look of it–and aesthetic pleasure is a big reason why I garden and hang out in the garden. But I do hang dry whenever I can–inside.

  11. In the old days, before clothes dryers and non-wrinkle fabrics were invented, everything was both line-dried and hand-ironed. The iron’s heat is what took the board-like texture out of towels and sheets and made them soft again.

    Iron towels and sheets? Uh, huh. My mom used to make me do that even though we had a dryer and they weren’t really that wrinkly. But she’d grown up with everything ironed, and she was gonna raise me right.

    Do still iron towels and sheets?

    Heck, no.

  12. All the landscape books from the early 1900’s included a drying yard in the layout. It was near the laundry room/kitchen and was fenced in. I always wondered if it was fenced in so no one would see your unmentionables hanging on the line, or an attempt to keep the dust from the unpaved roads off the laundry.

  13. Tibs – I think the fencing was a security measure. I’d love to hang my laundry outside but in an urban setting with lots of foot traffic on my corner, I don’t think that is smart. so I hang it all on my screened in sunporch – nice breeze going through, sunny, and protected. I have a zip line I put in plus a nice big foldaway drying rack from Ikea. I’m proud to say since I started this I’ve influenced at least two others to do so and they even report back to me on their “good drying days” – you know those few days in the Wash DC summer when the humidity backs off just a bit and your laundry dries in record time.

  14. I have an umbrella-type dryer in my back yard and use it from May through the end of September. Other months I remove the dryer and put up a bird feeder on a pole. However, the umbrella dryer is aesthetically not pleasing (and right outside my dining room window), so I’m thinking I may get one of the retractable ones which I see are available from the Clothesline Shop (thanks for the link, Shirley).

  15. I love the concept of clotheslines, but I don’t use one. Still, the pic you posted reminded me of Italy (including Rome), where everyone took advantage of a balcony or strung a line across a narrow street. I thought it was charming, and you really can’t get much more civilized than Rome and Venice. For heaven’s sake, let people have their clotheslines, to make up for the sins of blackhearts like me!

Comments are closed.