In the District of Columbia, property owners should be aware that grass eight inches or higher must be cut—or else.
This regulation (DCMR 14, Section 302) is enforced by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) from May 1st through October 31st each year. Failing to adhere to this law could result in a fine of $500 or more.
“Grass season keeps everybody on code,” said James Johnson, assistant supervisor for the Vacant Property Division’s abatement team. “Our job is important because it helps keep the city and neighborhoods uniform and beautiful.”
Excessive vegetative growth can cause serious public health implications. Tall grass can trigger respiratory problems like asthma and allergies in District residents and visitors.
Weeds create a breeding place for mosquitoes, rats, mice, snakes and other vermin which are drawn to grass and weed overgrowth.
Vegetation may be defined as any grasses, weeds, or plants at any state of maturity that:
- Exceeds more than 8 inches in height, is untended, or creates a dense area of shrubbery that is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the public;
- Creates a harbor (including hiding places for persons) or provides a place to conceal refuge or trash, regardless of height;
- Develops into deposits, or accumulation of, refuge or trash; harbors rodents and vermin or provides a refuge for snakes, rats or other rodents;
- Creates an unpleasant or noxious odor;
- Constitutes a fire hazard; or
- Contains grass or weeds that are dead.
“We are also good for the environment because we have some owners who will not cut their bushes, trim their hedges or manicure their lawns timely while their next door neighbors will. That’s not right. So what we do keeps the neighbors fair to each other,” Johnson said.
Residents who have members in their communities not willing to abide by the grass laws should report property owners with grass and/or weeds exceeding eight-inches to 311 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure that before you make contact with 311 or the agency that the absolute correct address of the complaint property is provided.
To encourage voluntary compliance before the city has to intervene; DCRA will be hanging door hanger reminders at properties where the grass height is close to the 8 inches.