District Regulations (DCMR 14, Section 302 Exterior Property Areas) prohibits property owners – both commercial and residential – from allowing grass and weeds on their premises to grow more than 8 inches in height. Failing to adhere to the Law could lead to fines of $500 or more. All exterior property and premises must be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition.
DCRA regulates several types of excessive vegetative growth including weeds, grasses, kudzu, poison ivy, oak, sumac, plants with obnoxious odors, and any other causing hay fever. Regulations require that these weeds be cut after no more than seven days of growth.
Grass Enforcement Season
Annually, from May 1st through October 31st, is grass enforcement season. DCRA can clean a property (i.e. mow property lawn and remove vegetation) and issue fines to the property owner. The fine (cost of the abatement) is determined by the number of employees and equipment used, and total time spent at the property.
Annually, from November 1st through April 30th, once a property is inspected and posted for excessive vegetation (growth in excess of 8 inches), DCRA allows the owner seven business days to respond and comply before mowing the property’s lawn. If there is no response, a re-inspection is conducted. If the violation still exists, DCRA will make arrangements to abate. Abatement can take up to four weeks after the initial inspection.
How to Report Overgrowth
Residents should report properties with grass and/or weeds exceeding 8 inches directly through directly to DCRA through the District’s 311 system. You can report your service requests by either calling 311, visiting the 311.dc.gov, using the mobile app (DC311), using the online live chat feature during standard business hours, texting DC311, or tweeting to @311dcgov. Please have the exact address of the property before making a complaint.
Why is grass height so important?
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.
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.