Long Grass, Weeds & Scrub Growth Violations

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Long Grass, Weeds & Scrub Growth Violations

City Code does not allow the growth of long grass, weeds, and scrub growth over nine inches tall on any property. This includes grass/weeds/scrub growth left along fences and walls after mowing. If a violation is found, a notice will be placed on the property with a follow-up inspection date. 

If the violation is not corrected by the follow-up date a contractor, hired by the City, will cut the violation. The property owner will be responsible for the cost of the mowing plus administrative charges. After the first violation of a season, any future violations found on the property will not get any prior notice and will be sent directly to a contractor for cutting.

Complaints of long grass and weeds can be made by calling our inspection line at (763) 706-8156.
Very Important Notice!
ONE and ONLY ONE notice for TALL GRASS, WEEDS, & SCRUB GROWTH will be given to a property in a year. No further notice(s) will be given to the owner/occupants for ANY future violation(s) of these ordinance(s) on this property. Instead, a city contractor will be sent to the property to correct any additional violation(s) of this ordinance, and the property owner will be billed for abatement services rendered and administrative fees. All fees not paid will be assessed back to the property to be paid with the property taxes.

How to Correct Violations
By the re-inspection date listed on the Violation Notice ANY and ALL grass or weeds and scrub growth over nine (9) inches in height, regardless of location must be cut and maintained at a height under nine (9) inches. This includes along with alleyways, fence lines, and foundations as well as the yard in general. If you have any questions on the nature of the violations or want more information call the inspection office at (763) 706-8156 before the re-inspection date.

Scrub-growth vegetation, including involuntary trees, along with foundations and along walls and fences must be cut down.

The Minnesota Noxious Weed list can be found here.


Below is an aggregate of city code outlining the parameters for code-compliant managed natural landscapes. Access to all city codes is free through the city’s website www.columbiaheightsmn.gov.


  • Managed natural landscape means a planned, intentional, and maintained planting of native or non-native grasses, wildflowers, forbs, ferns, shrubs or trees, including but not limited to rain gardens, meadow vegetation, and ornamental plantings.
  • Meadow vegetation means grasses and flowering broad-leaf plants that are native to, or adapted to, the State of Minnesota, and that are commonly found in meadow and prairie plant communities, not including noxious weeds.
  • Noxious weed shall have the meaning assigned by Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.77, Subd. 8.
  • Ornamental plants means grasses, perennials, annuals and groundcovers purposefully planted for aesthetic reasons.
  • Rain garden means a native plant garden that is designed not only to aesthetically improve properties, but also to reduce the amount of storm water and accompanying pollutants from entering streams, lakes, and rivers.
  • Turf-grass lawn means a lawn comprised mostly of grasses commonly used in regularly cut lawns or play areas (such as but not limited to bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass blends), intended to be maintained at a height of no more than nine (9) inches.

City Code Requirements.

  • The Fire Department, as code official/weed inspector for the city, is the authority that grants exceptions for orderly managed natural landscapes [Sections 5A.202 (F) (G) and § 4.203 of city code.].
  • Code-compliant managed natural landscapes must be maintained and orderly [5A.202 (G)].
  • Code Official determines what is orderly [5A.102 (F)].
  • Approved managed natural landscapes may include plants and grasses more than nine (9) inches in height and which have gone to seed but must be maintained free of unintended vegetation. Designated areas must be maintained free of noxious weeds [5A.202 (G)] and maintained free of weeds, trash, yard waste, garbage, and outside storage [5A.202 (G)].
  • Managed natural landscapes cannot be placed in any drainage utility easements, road right-of-way, or immediately adjacent to any driveway or road intersection if such landscaping interferes with a motorist's view of the street or roadway or with the use of the easement for its intended purpose [5A.202 (J)].
  • A minimum set back of three feet is required along rear and side lot lines. The setback must be composed of mowed turf grass, mulch, or other pervious ground cover. The setback requirement may be waived if:
    1. An approved fully opaque fence of a minimum height of five (5) feet is installed adjoining the landscape area.
    2. The managed natural landscape area directly abuts a wetland, pond, lake, stream, or officially designated wildlife/natural area.
  • Traffic visibility [9.103 (B)(12)]. No planting, structure or other obstruction shall be placed or allowed to grow on corner lots in a manner that will impede vision on the intersecting rights-of-way, in accordance with the following sight triangles:
    1. Street intersections. No planting or structure more than 30 inches above the abutting curb line shall be permitted within the sight triangle, defined as the area beginning at the intersection of the projected curb line of two intersecting streets, then 30 feet along one curb line, diagonally to a point 30 feet from the point of beginning on the other curb line, then back to a point of beginning.
    2. Street and alley intersections. No planting or structure more than 30 inches above the abutting curb line shall be permitted within the sight triangle, defined as the area beginning at the point of intersection of the projected curb line and the alley right-of-way, then 30 feet along the street curb line, diagonally to a point 15 feet from the point of beginning along said alley right-of-way or projection of the alley right-of-way, then back to the point of beginning.
    3. Alley and alley intersections. No planting or structure more than 30 inches above the nearest edge of the traveled right-of-way shall be permitted within the sight triangle, defined as the area beginning at the point of intersection of the two alley right-of-way lines, then 15 feet along one alley right-of-way line, then diagonally to a point 15 feet from the point of beginning along the second alley right-of-way line, then back to the point of beginning. Any structures existing within this sight triangle shall be deemed nonconforming structures in accordance with city code.
  • All trees, hedges, billboards, or other obstructions preventing people from having a clear view of all traffic approaching an intersection are a public nuisance affecting peace and safety [8.204 (B)].
  • Managed natural landscapes shall not include turf-grass lawns left unattended for the purpose of returning to a natural state. Designated areas cannot include turf-grass lawns inter-planted with other types of vegetation (no intermixing) [5A.202 (G)].
  • Grading and drainage. All premises shall be graded and maintained to prevent the erosion of soil and to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon, or within any structure located thereon. Drainage from a property shall not adversely affect adjoining premises [5A.202 (C)].
  • Slopes and berms. Final grades with a slope ratio of greater than three to one are not permitted without special approved treatment such as special ground covers or reforestation, terracing, or retaining walls. Berating used to provide required screening of parking lots and other open areas shall not have slopes exceeding three to one [5A.202 (E)].
  • Ground cover. All exposed ground area surrounding the principal structure and accessory structures, which are not devoted to driveways, parking areas, sidewalks, or patios, shall be sodded or landscaped with shrubs, trees, gardens, or other ornamental landscape materials [5A.202 (D)].
  • Materials used for landscaping, including but not limited to, stone, brick, wood, edging materials, plastic, weed barriers shall be maintained. Damaged or deteriorated materials shall be repaired or replaced [5A.202 (D)].