Mowing Schedule Explained

Mowing Schedule Explained

How often does Harris County Flood Control District mow?

  • Channels and stormwater detention basins: Three times during the April-November growing season 
  • Buyout lots: Once a month during the April-November growing season 
  • Multi-Service Areas: As needed to keep vegetation under 24 inches

Interactive Mowing Schedule Map

DIRECTIONS: Click on the map below to launch the app. Enter an address or use the zoom tool to navigate. Click on color-coded channel or property for details. Locations are "scheduled" no more than 45 days in advance.

Mowing for Vegetation Management

The Harris County Flood Control District maintains more than 2,500 miles of predominately grass-lined bayous, creeks and manmade drainage channels, along with dozens of large stormwater detention basin sites, and about 2,300 buyout lots in neighborhoods across Harris County. That’s a total of more than 18,000 acres. Our regular maintenance program includes mowing, selective clearing, hazardous tree removal, herbicide application, tree pruning, and removing sediment and foreign materials that build up in our channels, potentially affecting their ability to efficiently convey stormwater.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mowing

Why does the Flood Control District mow its channels?

The Flood Control District mows its channels to:

  • Control undesirable woody species.
  • Encourage the spread and improve the density of the grass for erosion-control purposes.
  • Provide a generally well-kept appearance for the general public.
  • Provide inspection of the channels on a regular basis to ensure they are functioning properly.

When are the three mowing cycles for most channels and basins?

Mowing cycles are set based on current weather patterns and vary somewhat from year to year, but generally follow the schedule below:

  • May through June 
  • July through September 
  • October through November

What is a multi-service area and why does it have a different mowing schedule?

Multi-Service Areas include the Clear Lake and Mason Creek watersheds. These suburban watersheds are smaller, which allows the Flood Control District to utilize a contractor to mow more frequently and to handle multiple vegetation management tasks. These areas are mowed as needed for control of Johnson grass, which means keeping vegetation to less than 24 inches in height.

Why doesn’t the Flood Control District mow more often?

The Flood Control District’s mowing program is intended to maintain cost-effective grass-lined channels, limit tree growth and other woody-stemmed vegetation that grow near the channel flow line, and provide open access for the inspection of slopes and other flood control infrastructure. The Flood Control District accomplishes this with its current, three-times-per-year mowing schedule. In keeping with its mission statement, the Flood Control District must prioritize its limited budget to reduce flooding risks and damages, and to properly maintain our important drainage infrastructure. Flood damage reduction, health and safety – rather than beautification – is the goal.

What does "Not mowed by HCFCD" mean?

When a channel is listed as “Not mowed by HCFCD” on the interactive mowing application, it can indicate one of several situations, including:

  • The Flood Control District has limited or no property rights along this channel. (Example: Sections of Greens Bayou between Highway 90 and I-10)
  • The channel has been adopted for mowing under a formal or informal agreement between the Flood Control District and another entity, such as the City of Houston or a municipal utility district. (Example: Buffalo Bayou between Sabine Street and Shepherd Drive)
  • The channel has natural characteristics and vegetation that do not allow for mowing, or for which mowing is not the preferred vegetation management option. (Example: Sections of Little Cypress Creek)
  • The channel has a tree canopy that naturally shades out ground vegetation so that mowing is not required. (Example: Willow Creek and sections of Cypress Creek)

Does tall grass cause floods?

Grass-lined channels convey stormwater very effectively; even tall grass will not prevent or significantly slow the channel flow. Soft grass stems bend with rapidly flowing water, allowing it to “get out of the way” during floods. (Visual observation after a rainfall event, once the water recedes, shows the grass lying down in the direction of the flow.) 

The Flood Control District does limit the presence of large woody-stemmed trees, shrubs and grasses within channel flow lines.

What if a community wants more frequent mowing?

In some cases, residents, community organizations or governmental agencies desire more mowing than our regular maintenance program and flood damage reduction priorities can provide. In those instances, the Flood Control District may enter into various types of agreements for additional maintenance provided and paid for by those residents, organizations or agencies.

For example: 

  • A municipal utility district might take over mowing for a channel via a Mowing Reimbursement Agreement. The MUD would be reimbursed for the three times per year the Flood Control District would have mowed.
  • Individuals may “adopt” a neighborhood buyout lot for mowing and other approved purposes through our Open Space Program.
  • A Homeowners Association might enter into a public recreation agreement to use a detention basin for soccer fields, which will include mowing.

For more information on the Open Space Program and multi-use agreements, please contact the Flood Control District at (713) 684-4000 and ask for the Community Services Division.