City mowing unruly lawns for a steep price


Would you pay $355 dollars to have your lawn mowed?

That is what the city of Indianapolis charges when grass and weeds exceed one foot tall and no one mows.

The city is stepping up the high weeds and grass program and are flooding the streets with code enforcement inspectors armed with rulers to bring order to the lawns. Last year, the city ordered contractors to mow 10,000 lawns or vacant lots and this year the numbers are trending in the same direction.

Mowing the lawn at the Bloom house has been done, and Annie Bloom is now halfway through a pick-up load of mulch. It's hard work, but after 15 years in the neighborhood, Bloom has become one of few people around her that still cares about her house and yard.

Her yard is well kept, the flowers have been put out, and by nightfall, the mulch will be in place, which makes Bloom something of a rarity in her near west side neighborhood.

"They don't mow their lawns, don't clean up all of their trash. This neighborhood is good for people coming around and just throwing trash out. I picked up a shack full of trash yesterday from out front here," said Bloom.

Since she and her husband moved into the neighborhood, most of the people that made this a good neighborhood have moved on or passed away. Absentee owners and a tough economy have taken a toll.

"Slum lords don't enforce it, slum lords don't care, you know, they just let anyone live there. Nobody takes care of their stuff," said Bloom.

Since the actions of people like Bloom have not caught on, the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement will send an inspector to make sure that someone least cuts the lawn.

A few property owners found out that the rules are pretty simple - a ruler. If your grass and weeds are a foot high, then it has to be mowed. One hour later, Eyewitness News found at least one high weeds violator had tamed his lawn.

But was not the case with the others and the worst lawns were those without anyone living in the house. Al Ensley with the Department of Code Enforcement says cleaning the lawns is one step to cleaning up the city.

"Nobody wants to live next to a property that someone is not maintaining," said Ensley.

The owners are given time to make amends, but once the city hires a contractor to mow the lawn, they charge the owners more than $300.

"That makes us the most expensive lawn service in the city," said Ensley.

Owners have five days from the time the city notifies them to get the mower out. If the fines are not paid, then the city places a lien on the property.

Those that are living next to a nuisance lawn can contact the city at 317-327-5577.