The weeds in planting strips along a stretch of 52nd Avenue W in unincorporated Snohomish County took off over the summer before finally being cut back in September. County crews encourage people to report problem areas like these. (Contributed photos)

The weeds in planting strips along a stretch of 52nd Avenue W in unincorporated Snohomish County took off over the summer before finally being cut back in September. County crews encourage people to report problem areas like these. (Contributed photos)

What good are planting strips when all they grow are weeds?

When there’s no homeowner to maintain greenery next to a sidewalk, the county mows — but infrequently.

Street Smarts reader Erik Robins has concerns about lack of landscaping maintenance along sidewalks in unincorporated Snohomish County, particularly along 52nd Avenue W between Lynnwood and Mukilteo. He wonders if a solution could occur at the front end of road design projects — which is an interesting twist on an all-too-common complaint about overgrown sidewalks.

Robins wrote: “A few years ago, Beverly Park Road and 52nd Avenue W were widened. It included sidewalks, and the section in Snohomish County has planting strips between the sidewalk and the road. These have never been maintained and are overgrown with weeds. When strips like this are installed, there should be some plan for maintenance. It would look better if there was concrete instead of the ugly unmaintained strips.”

Soon after we heard from Robins, Snohomish County road crews went out and mowed the areas he pointed out.

Still, the weeds had gotten pretty long in the leaf by that point.

“My issue is not that the strips are unmaintained but that I think the county should expect that strips, in areas like this, will probably not be maintained and consider a different design,” Robins noted.

Planter strips are probably here to stay.

That’s because they fulfill a variety of roles, Snohomish County spokesman Matt Phelps said in a response.

“They add greenery and aesthetics to the infrastructure, provide an additional buffer between pedestrians and vehicles, help with drainage, and provide a place for a low impact development feature to filter pollutants. They also provide a location for items such as fire hydrants and signs so that they are not within the walking path of pedestrians,” Phelps said.

Homeowners are required by county and city codes to maintain planting strips, and complaints can be brought against those who don’t keep up.

In the spot Robins spotted, county road maintenance crews maintain the strips “on an as-needed basis,” Phelps said.

There can be months-long gaps in that work, as there was in this case.

“The road maintenance division maintains 1,600 miles of roads, so we do appreciate being notified of any strips that need attention and have to prioritize the sites,” Phelps said.

For unincorporated areas, you can call 425-388-7500 when you see planter strip areas that need maintenance.

Within city limits, contact your local code enforcement office.

Have a gripe? Email streetsmarts@heraldnet.com or call 425-339-3432. We’ll at least commiserate.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

A car drives by flowers placed at a memorial for two pedestrians killed at the corner of 204th Street NE and Highway 9 on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$500K bail for driver accused of killing 2 Arlington pedestrians

Elliott Bagley, 28, told an officer he’d had a couple beers before the crash Thursday, according to police.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses face burnout as hospital staffing shortage continues

‘It feels like there has been a mass exodus in the last two to three months.’

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

vote
Ballots sent for special election on public schools’ funding

Levies to pay for staff, programs, computers and capital projects are on the Feb. 8 ballot across Snohomish County.

Houses along 88th Drive SE visible from the utility access road slated to become the Powerline Trail on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Neighbors hold out on plan for new Lake Stevens trail

The city wants to build the Powerline Trail from 20th Street SE to Eighth Street SE. But homeowners have some concerns.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Billionaire Bezos wants to bring free preschool to Everett

The Amazon founder’s program would be housed at Everett Station. Admission would be determined by lottery.

Most Read