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Southern Queensland councils scramble to keep grass down after rain

By Peter Gunders, Monday January 18, 2021 - 06:50 EDT
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Mowing crews are being pushed to the limit in the state's south. - ABC

Councils in southern Queensland are urging locals not to mow public land as green grass turns parks into jungles after years of drought.

Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Vic Pennisi had not used his mower for more than 12 months, but it has copped a flogging over the past 10 days thanks to recent rain.

He said he had been fielding complaints from locals about the state of public spaces, but noted that the rain was "what we'd been praying for".

"We've been in drought for years and had a number of people within the garden section of the council deployed to other areas of council," Cr Pennisi said.

"So now we've had to scramble and redeploy, re-employ and put it out to contractors.

"It's a fantastic problem to have ? it's much more enjoyable to look at green."

Victa vigilantes

Cr Pennisi said some community members had "taken matters into their own hands" and started mowing council land.

"I can't condone anyone going out and mowing public property," he said.

"Be kind to our staff, they're doing the best they can with the resources they have ? but we simply don't have the resources to do it all on the one day.

"I'd be willing to hop on a mower if it was an accepted practice ? but the mayoral robes aren't made of fluoro."

The situation is similar in Toowoomba, where a team of 43 council staff have been tasked with keeping 362 parks trimmed.

Toowoomba councillor for community and environment, Tim McMahon, said extra staff were working hard to curb the green onslaught.

"I'm getting emails every day about knee-high grass in local parks," he said.

"The phones are running hot and it's all hands on the mowers.

"They're working overtime and on weekends to try and get the grass mown."

'Fairly hectic'

Mower repairers are also busy.

"It's a bit of a boom or bust industry," said John Giersbergen, who has been fixing mowers for five decades.

"It's fairly hectic at present.

"Since the rain it's up to four weeks to get your mower repaired.

"But it's a lot better looking at all the greenery than the dead grass and brown dirt.

"Who knows what lies ahead? We just have to do what we can while it's this busy."

Mr Giersbergen said a little bit of home maintenance can help during the growing months.

"People tend not to worry about the poor old lawn mower ? it sits in the shed and when the grass grows it's, 'Oh, we better start it up,'" he said.

"The best thing with a mower is to get it out regularly and start it.

"Keep your air filter clean and check on the conditions of your blades."


© ABC 2021

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