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City of Newton - Community Services/Parks & Rec

Posted on: May 20, 2021

Reminder About Grass & Weeds Ordinance

Lawnmower cutting long grass.

Per the City of Newton ordinance, grass/weeds are not allowed to grow higher than 6 inches on developed residential, commercial, and industrial properties and 8 inches on undeveloped residential properties. Chapter 94.2 of the City of Newton Code lays out the information:

(a) All weeds, tall grass or ground vegetation growing on lots and parcels of ground within the city limits shall, automatically be deemed a health, safety and fire hazard upon reaching or exceeding the maximum ground vegetation height restriction as set forth below. This section does not apply to ornamental grass.

Maximum Vegetation Height by Land Use

  • 6 inches - Developed residential commercial and industrial zoned areas
  • 8 inches - Undeveloped residential areas
  • 12 inches - Undeveloped commercial and industrial zoned areas
  • 18 inches - Unplatted property and agriculture zoned property unless planted for farm cropping purposes

(b) The property owner(s) or occupants(s) shall also be jointly or severally responsible for the cutting of such growths on the abutting space between the lot line and the curb line or edge of the traveled way within the street right-of-way whether in front of or along the side of the lot or parcel of ground, and one-half of any alley abutting the property.

(c) The City Administrator or the City Administrator's designee shall notify the property owner(s)/occupant(s) when the weeds or growth are longer than the limits set out in this section. If the weeds or growth are not cut within four days, then the city shall have the option to issue a municipal infraction and/or have the weeds or growth cut and assess the cost to be collected with the property taxes. Nothing herein shall be construed as requiring the property owner(s) or occupant(s) to be jointly or severally responsible for the cutting of such growths on unimproved platted street right-of-way. Such unimproved platted street right-of-way shall be mowed by the city at its own expense pursuant to guidelines established by the Public Works Director. Furthermore, nothing shall be construed as otherwise alleviating property owner(s) or occupant(s) duty to otherwise maintain all property outside the lot and property lines and inside the curb lines upon the public streets.

If violations are reported to the City, the Community Service Department will inspect the property and may issue a notice of violation. If the property owner does not mow/trim within the allotted window of the notice, an abatement contractor is hired to do the work. The property owner will be billed through the abatement process for that service plus administrative fees.

Property owners can submit concerns about lawn maintenance, snow removal, noise, debris, potholes, and more through the City's Report a Concern module. Call 641-792-6622 with any questions related to property maintenance requirements or issues.

Also, the City of Newton reminds property owners and lawn service workers to make sure that grass clippings are not blown into or swept into the public streets. When piled up, clippings can be hazardous to motorcyclists and bicyclists. And, lawn clippings that reach the storm sewer can cause problems for aquatic life downstream.

Thanks so much!

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