Grass cutting, verges and weeds

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Grass cutting programme

Weather and ground conditions permitting, we shall carry out 5 urban cuts between April and November 2024 with a final urban cut in March 2025. The whole County will receive 2 rural cuts per annum. Please see our grass cutting programme.

You can also now access our grass cutting map for information on the type of cut an area of grass will get and the estimated next cut date.

We are experiencing some delays with our planned grass cutting programme dates in parts of the County as a result of the weather and operational issues. We are working with our contractors to improve the situation and are sorry for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.


Grass cutting and weed spraying management

We are responsible for grass cutting, weed spraying and treatment of harmful weeds across the whole of the county as well as co-ordinating grass cutting on all high speed roads.

The standard across the whole County will be six urban cuts, two rural cuts and one weed spray treatment per annum. In general, an urban area is a built up area with a speed limit of 40 mph or less and, for these verges, a ride on a heavy duty rotary mower is used.

A rural road is one which tends to have less density of buildings than urban roads and they are often tree or hedge lined. These rural grass verges are cut by tractor.

We do not maintain shrub beds, flower beds, hedges, roundabouts that have sponsorship or cut any grass which is part of the Blue Campaign (other than for sight lines and safety issues). We also do not maintain private or common land.

Litter picking is the responsibility of the district and boroughs councils. We will work closely with them to ensure that, wherever possible, litter picking can be carried out before we cut the grass.

Moss treatment/infestation is also the responsibility of the district and boroughs councils. Mosses do not process water and nutrients the same way as weeds that are more devolved and therefore the herbicide we use to combat weeds has no effect on moss.

How we deal with grass cuttings

We do not collect grass cuttings following mowing but they should be spread evenly over the surface. Any cuttings on the footpaths after mowing will be blown back onto the verge.

We acknowledge and understand the advantages of removing grass cutting but raking up, loading, transporting and getting rid of grass cuttings would also increase the cost of the grass cutting substantially.

Trials of vehicles that can both cut and collect grass are ongoing and being monitored in other areas, as it is something we could look to do in the future but at this moment in time, we will not be doing this.

We're aware there can be concerns about grass cuttings blocking drainage, increasing risk of flooding. We will always endeavour to blow cuttings off of footpaths and highways, but if grass does fall into a gulley it will quickly degrade.

There can sometimes be short term implications if matted grass sits on top of a gulley grating, temporarily restricting water from getting in, similar to large leaves in the autumn, but it is rare for this to be an issue.

Cutting grass verges yourself

If you would like to cut the grass on the verge outside your house more often than we can do, you can do so provided you can do it safely. Consider wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and look out for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians passing the verge.

Any grass cuttings can be left evenly spread over the verge, or you can dispose of them with grass cuttings from your lawn - either on your compost heap or in your garden waste bin. Please do not leave piles of grass cuttings on the verge or where they could block drains or ditches. We are not able to collect grass cuttings from you.

If you want to spread wildflower seed on the verge outside your house you can do so without the need for a cultivation licence.


Increasing biodiversity in grass verges

With 41% of insect species in decline and only 3% of wild grassland remaining in the UK, we want to protect nature in Surrey for future generations to enjoy.

By managing our Highways verges and our roundabouts differently, we hope to make a significant impact by increasing biodiversity, helping wildlife to thrive and encourage more carbon absorption.

We ensure our highway verge maintenance contributes to our greener futures objectives and provides a greater ability to support the national Blue Campaign which encourages councils and residents across the UK to find suitable land to let nature take over and enable wildflowers to grow by reducing grassing cutting. For more information on how you can play a key role in this please visit the Surrey County Council Blue Campaign page.

Whilst there will be some compromises, we hope to achieve a balance between promoting and supporting biodiversity with the needs of road users and efficient use of resources.

We will also actively trial and switch to alternatives to conventional weed spraying as technology develops.


Fire risk

We have sought expert advice following enquiries regarding the perceived increase in risk of fire due to the longer grass.

However, Surrey Fire and Rescue believe that long grass, and the growing of hedgerows has become a positive wildlife and eco-friendly option.

'Natural Wilding' is a concept of allowing grass and open areas to grow in order to encourage nature to flourish. Long grass, on verges and roadsides do not pose any specific risk as compared to shorter grass.

There is no evidence to suggest that long grass or vegetation by the roadside is at any more risk of fire.

The key is to ensure that we reduce ignition sources, such as litter, glass, disposable barbeques and discarded smoking materials. The fire service encourage the responsible natural wilding of areas, in a managed way.


Dog fouling

It is the dog owner's responsibility to collect all waste regardless of the grass height or environment and we believe that the benefits of biodiverse areas outweigh the potential risks of accidentally encountering dog fouling that has not been removed by the owner.


Ticks

Ticks live in areas of dense vegetation such as grassland and woodland locations and can carry infections, so we encourage those enjoying these environments to take care. While walking in green spaces, consider the following as recommended by UK Health Security Agency.

  • Wearing clothing that covers your skin to make it more difficult for ticks to access a suitable place to bite.
  • Use insect repellent such as N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, also called diethyltoluamide (DEET) and consider wearing light coloured clothing so that you can easily spot ticks and brush them off.
  • After spending time outside, check yourself, your clothing, your pets and others for ticks. Remove any attached tick as soon as you find it using a tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers.

How to report a grass cutting issue in your area

We are responsible for cutting grass across Surrey. To report an issue, please use our online form:

Report grass cutting issue

(Please note: we do not cut grass or resolve issues with grass or weeds on private property.)


Apply to maintain a grass verge

Owners or occupiers of properties next to the highway can apply for a licence to plant and maintain shrubs, plants or grass verges at that location.

Apply to plant or maintain a grass verge


Parking on verges problem

For help with the issue of parking on grass verges, please see our protecting grass verges page.


Weed control responsibilities

We are responsible for weed control across the whole county including the treatment of noxious weeds. Read more about weed control.

To report an issue with weeds, please use our online form Tell us about a weed issue.


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