Weedy Problem from Sidewalk Reconstruction

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Saturday, September 1, 2012, 7:53 pm
Alice Dreger

The City’s summer sidewalk reconstruction program has left some residents with a bloom of unwanted weeds and a good deal of frustration. In many locales, sidewalk reconstruction necessitated replanting of lawn borders and parkways. The contractor, Sandborn Construction, appears to have used a seed mix or a topsoil that was high on weed seed. In some replanted areas, ragweed as tall as three feet high has emerged. There is also significant amounts of jumbo-sized crabgrass showing in many replanted areas.

In response to complaints, the City of East Lansing sent a letter in early July to affected residents indicating that the City has “contacted Sandborn Construction to review the restoration areas and give the City a plan of action to correct some of the areas.” (See the letter here.) The City told property owners that "Residents can ensure strong grass growth, while keeping weeds to a minimum, by periodically watering these areas to keep the ground moist. Although the contractor is responsible for the restored areas, we have found that those residents who supplement the contractor's efforts by watering every couple days experience much better grass growth with significantly fewer weeds."

ELi has since contacted the City for more information. Our questions, sent on August 24 to Lori Baetz, were answered on August 30 by Todd Sneathen, Director of Public Works (who has also previously provided useful information about parkways).

Sneathen indicated in his response that city staff has “met with the contractor and we are working with them to develop a plan to correct the restoration. As is standard practice, we have withheld money from the final payment to help ensure adequate restoration of the disturbed areas by the contractor” (emphasis in original).

According to Sneathen, “The seed mix is certified and approved. As I indicated, with little to no water weeds are the only thing that will typically grow. The weed seed are typically found in the topsoil which is not a problem if the seed is watered and the grass grows.”

Note: Residents affected by this issue are encouraged to contact ELi if they have additional information. ELi thanks Mr. Sneathen for his assistance with this citizen reporting. Photo credit: KWDS.


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