Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The long, long grass of home

Our rural grass-cutting teams have reported this year’s grass growing rate is the highest they have seen it in 36 years on the job. This is the result of the current weather conditions of heavy rain showers with intermittent warm sunshine which has led to ideal growing conditions. You can almost see the grass grow in front of you.

Cabinet member for transport, Mark Shaw says:
“Transport for Buckinghamshire will always work to ensure visibility is not affected; we take safety very seriously and our guys work throughout the summer to keep cutting back that long grass which may affect road users’ view of the road. However, grass which is not imposing on visibility, which is growing at this amazing rate, may inevitably lead some road sides to look a little shabby! We must prioritise work which is essential in keeping the roads safe, and to preserve our resources some grass cutting which would be considered cosmetic has to be left as it is. At least we have a lush, green countryside to enjoy for the summer months!”

Grass cutting: where, when, and why
Grass cutting is undertaken primarily for safety reasons; to ensure that forward visibility requirements for road users are maintained. Rural cuts take place twice a year and, in general, a one metre swathe will be cut adjacent to the road, with wider areas cut at junctions, inside bends or other areas where additional visibility is required.
Urban grass cutting takes place at more frequent intervals. The four scheduled grass cutting runs for 2016 are as follows:
Cut 1 – 4th April – 15th May
Cut 2 – 16th May – 26th June
Cut 3 – 27th June – 14th August
Cut 4 – 15th August – 2nd October
Some grass cutting has been devolved to parish councils
Many of the parishes in Buckinghamshire have signed an agreement to take over responsibility for a number of County Council activities, including their own urban grass cutting. Transport for Bucks will retain responsibility for rural grass cutting within all parishes, and also for cutting grass on central reservations. To see if your parish has adopted devolvement, check the list on our website, by clicking here.
FAQs about grass cutting
Q. Why are grass clippings not removed from the cut area?
A. The clippings are relatively short and rot down quickly, which slows down re-growth. Raking up, loading, transporting and disposal of grass cuttings would increase the cost by twelve times. We make sure, however, that grass cuttings are not left on adjacent roads, pavements, driveways etc.
Q. Do you cut grass in all rural areas?
A. Not in all rural areas, as it is simply not practical. Apart from sight line areas, we only cut a one meter wide strip next to roads. Embankments and steep slopes will not be cut unless they are directly next to road whilst verges will be cut on either side of pavements.
Q. I have a grass verge outside my property which I like to maintain myself. Is there anything I should do about this?
A. We are aware that some people like to cut the grass near their home. You should be aware of the possible risk of injury to yourself, passing pedestrians and traffic. For more information, please contact us.
Q. Why has the edge been cut but not the middle of the grass and vice versa?
A. Our grass cutting operates in teams of 2 or 3 operators and consists of 1 ride-on mower operator, and 1 or 2 strimmer/blower operator/s. Due to the speed of ride-on mower, the strimmer/blower can often be behind. The time between these two operations occurring may be a number of hours. For example you may have seen the main grass cut during the morning but the edges and the sweeping or blowing may not be carried out until the afternoon or early the next day. Please wait at least 24 hours before contacting the Council with your concern as the contractors may well be en route already.
Q. Why has this area been missed?
A. There are many reasons why areas may have been missed but some of the most common are listed below; There are some areas that are deemed as missed but in reality it is simply that there has been a growth spurt in the 4-6 week gap between cuts. Areas where daffodil and tulip bulbs have been flowering will be left uncut for at least 6 weeks after the flowers have finished as this is a horticultural requirement. The cutting will be carried out during the next round after this period of time. Where the contractors pass areas that appear to be maintained they may decide not to cut the area again. If you would like the contractors to cut the grass please do not cut the area yourself and it will be picked up during the next round. Some areas may suffer from standing water and during severe wet weather periods may only be partially cut. We will cut as much of the area as possible leaving other areas that are too wet and impossible to cut without causing excessive damage. It is best practice to cut as much as possible rather than to leave the entire site uncut. If you think an area has been missed, please call our contact centre and provide the exact details of the area using the nearest property address. The information will then be sent to the relevant department.
Q. I think that the quality of the cutting is poor. Why is this? Will they come back?
A. We do try to cut to a certain specification set out in the grounds maintenance contract. However, there are issues that can impact on the quality of the cut as noted below;

  • Scalping – On occasions, where there are uneven ground levels, a tyre of the mower can dip down causing the blade to scalp over lumps or slopes of uneven ground. This is not intentional and often cannot be helped. Over time these small areas will regenerate.
  • Tufts/uneven grass – long grass may cause difficulties with machinery. You may see tufts or ridges of longer grass. This is due to the wheels of the machine pushing the long grass flat as they pass over. Once pushed flat it may be missed by the blades. Unfortunately this cannot be prevented when dealing with long grass so the team takes steps to ensure the programme is on schedule to avoid this happening wherever possible.