Weeds become a growing concern
Wet weather a boon to desirable plants, but also to the noxious ones
If you’re not in the weeds lately, your neighbor probably is.
While heavy rains in the past few weeks have produced vibrant vegetable gardens, flowers and lawns across the Grand Valley, they also have encouraged their more sinister cousin—weeds—to flourish.
Likely the most prolific and easily spotted of all weeds, the Kochia Scoparia, a bushy, lightning-fast plant that grows up to 7 feet tall, has been consuming vacant lots and medians in recent weeks.
Weeds were so tall recently in the area of 24 1/2 Road that motorists had to edge out into traffic before turning. If you look, weeds can be seen over the tops of some 6-foot fences and lining alleyways.
“I think all that rain we got really kind of pushed them,” said Susan Rose, with Mesa County’s Colorado State University Extension Office. “They went from 2 feet to 5 feet overnight.”
Whether you are required to mind weeds on your property depends on where you live and what kinds of weeds are growing on your land.
In Grand Junction and Fruita, a code enforcement officer will make contact with an offending landowner after a complaint has been lodged. Someone will respond to weed complaints in Mesa County only if the weeds are considered noxious. The most common noxious weeds in the Grand Valley include puncturevine—commonly known as goat heads—Russian knapweed and foxtail, however the county’s list of noxious weeds is much longer.
But you probably shouldn’t wait to get a notice before cutting weeds. Kochia, for example, is one weed that some people find highly allergic, Rose said.
“If kochia were on the (noxious weed) list the weed managers use, it would be just an obnoxious weed,” she joked.
Trudy Brown, administrative assistant for code compliance services with Mesa County, said her division gets lots of complaints this time of year for weeds. While the county has no enforcement for weeds specifically, officers will ask residents to cut weeds if they are out on call about junk vehicles or trash on private property.
In Grand Junction, landowners are responsible for removing all weeds within their property, which includes medians and ditches. Owners of vacant land of more than one acre are required to cut weeds that are within 20 feet of any adjacent lot.
Landowners have seven days to comply if a notice is given. If the weeds are cut, the case will be closed. Those who don’t comply can receive a $150 fine. More fines can ensue if the weeds still are not removed, including costs of having the weeds cut.
Fruita residents have 15 days after receiving a letter by mail to cut or remove weeds from their property, said Susan Carter, assistant planner and code enforcement officer for Fruita.
This week Carter is following up on 180 weed complaints. Some of those complaints are from weeds growing in yards of foreclosed homes.
The presence of weeds on neighbors’ properties was one aspect of city living that residents found most annoying, according to the city’s latest citizen survey.
Carter gets that.
“One kochia can put out 14,000 seeds. People are worried about the seeds spreading to their property,” she said. “It does have an effect on property values. We had one real estate agent trying to sell a property and she noticed the weeds in the neighbors’ yards. A nice landscape adds at least $10,000 to the price of a home.”
Carter said the city of Fruita has only had to take one person to court over out-of-control weeds.
“We don’t want money,” she said of having to ticket offenders. “We want compliance.”