Pickerington officials again this spring are asking property owners to do their parts to keep up community appearances -- and pests at bay -- through upkeep of their lawns.

Now that winter has finally relented, sunshine and warm temperatures are helping to put neighborhoods in full blown.

Grass and weeds also are thriving and city officials are making their annual appeal to residents to keep their lawns mowed and trimmed.

"Our city is proud of how clean and maintained the business and residential areas are kept," said Mike Magee, Pickerington's zoning officer.

"Lawns are a first impression, and it's important to maintaining property values, as well as keeping pests and other nuisances to a minimum.

"We have a beautiful city, and it requires residents to be responsible and diligent to keep it looking that way."

Code enforcement officials don't typically patrol city streets looking to cite property owners who neglect their lawns.

They do, however, conduct routine inspections and respond to complaints from citizens.

Those who fail to comply with city ordinances to keep grass and weeds 6 inches or shorter could receive a notice in the mail.

"Essentially, on residential and commercial lots, grasses and weeds cannot exceed 6 inches," Magee said.

"For other parcels of land, the standard is not to exceed 18 inches, (or) 12 inches for land that is next to 'developed' properties," he said.

For the most part, Magee said, mowing-related issues are resolved before penalties come into play.

For vacant and other non-compliant properties, the city manager authorizes contractors to mow them to bring them into compliance.

The city recovers contract-mowing costs via tax liens on the properties.

The city also can take cases to Mayor's Court, but Magee said that is rare.

"The city is always willing to work with property owners on a case-by-case basis," he said. "Communication is vital, as there may be extenuating circumstances."

Property owners who are notified are encouraged to call Magee at 614-833-2204 or email mmagee@pickerington.net to discuss their issues.

They also can contact officials at the city's website: ci.pickerington.oh.us and clicking on the Pages/Our_Community/Code_Enforcement/ tab.

Magee also encouraged residents who have a complaint to see if the matter can be addressed civilly before reporting it to the city.

Residents also can submit complaints anonymously.

However, Magee said if residents make anonymous complaints he is unable to update them about whether a violation exists or if corrective action is being taken.

"All of us have a vested interest in keeping our community looking great," Magee said.

"I have found in most cases, a kind word or reminder to our neighbors can go a long way to establishing good-looking lawns.

"I encourage residents to communicate with their neighbors first," Magee said.

"Try to resolve the situation in a neighborly way. If that's not working, the city is always willing and able to lend a hand when needed."