Polk County lawn complaints piling high as neglect and rain add up

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Stretches of rain with minimal days to dry out is creating an eyesore for Des Moines neighborhoods when it comes to lawn maintenance.

“We get people on both sides that are really passionate. A neighbor not mowing their yard or somebody not taking care of their property and then we deal with property owners dealing with extenuating circumstances of why they aren’t able to take care of their yard and we try to work with both sides of the equation,” said Bret VandeLune, who serves as Polk County’s weed commissioner.

VandeLune says since the weed control season began May 3, he’s logged more than 350 complaints of homes having grass 12 inches or longer. Fifty of those complaints have come since the weekend. Homes in violation receive a notice in the mail. If the lawn is not taken care of in seven days, the county will mow it at a rate around $160 per hour. If not paid, it is added to an owner’s property taxes.

One home that residents are complaining about is located on E. Sheridan, but neighbor Marcy Wilfon isn’t upset and didn’t call it in. She hopes residents will get to know their neighbors a bit better before calling in a complaint.

“He’s a very elderly man and he is in extended care with dementia. Usually his family is very good at coming over and mowing but probably with the rain they haven’t been able to get here as much,” said Wilfon. She has experience with special circumstances. Wilfon said, “We’ve actually received the notice about weeds and it was a special situation. Our lawn mower was broken and had to be sent in for service.”

The county will work with individuals who have special circumstances and can also provide extensions. Complaints or questions can be sent to weedcommission@polkcountyiowa.gov

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