ABILENE, Texas -

Letting your grass grow above a foot high is a crime in Abilene it’s defined by city regulations as a public nuisance, a Class C misdemeanor, and it’s punishable by up to a $500 fine. 

City code enforcement officers said overgrown lawns are the number one complaint they get and it costs taxpayers more than $20,000 every year.

That’s why they will be hosting zero-tolerance week July 22-26.

"Usually this time of year things are starting to get brown out there and the grass that's three or four or five feet high can ignite very easily," said Ed McRoy, assistant director of planning and development services.   

Abilene’s policy is to notify property owners first in person, but if no one is home then it's back to the office where code officers write up and mail them a notice.

Ten days later the officer will revisit the property and if the grass has still not been cut, officers send a contractor to take care of it at the property owner’s expense. That usually costs about $150. 

Next week the city will step up penalties as part of zero-tolerance week.

"What we'll do in this case is if they've ignored that notice then not only will we send a contractor and they get the bill for the mowing of their property, but they're also going to get a citation and that citation could cost them up to $500 potentially," said McRoy.     

Anyone who is injured or on vacation and is temporarily unable to treat their grass or weeds can call code enforcement and let them know.