Indiana State Weed Control Laws
Dr. Gerald A. Harrison
Several Indiana statutes provide enforcement tools for weed control. Although formal
enforcement of the weed laws may be unpopular in most communities, the township
trustees are under a duty to take action to control certain weeds.
Township Trustees' Duty
Destruction of detrimental plants is required by IC 15-3-4. Detrimental plants are Canada thistle,
Johnson grass, sorghum almum, bur cucumber, and in
residential areas only, noxious weeds and rank vegetation. Various methods of
control may be used as long as the plants are not allowed to mature.
The township trustee under procedures in this statute may investigate and
provide notice to the owner or person in possession of the real estate of the
requirement to destroy the weeds. The owner of the real estate has five days
after proper notice to destroy the detrimental plants.
If necessary, the trustee may take action to control the weeds, bill the
owner, and, if the bill is not paid, arrange for the amount due to be collected
like real estate taxes.
The township trustee who fails to perform his or her duties under this law
commits a Class C infraction. A Class C infraction has a maximum penalty of
$500—each day is a separate offense.
The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service (CES) provides technical
assistance to township trustees for the control of detrimental plants.
A separate statute, IC 15-3-5,
provides for the control (do anything possible to restrict the growth
and seed production) of Johnson grass between July 1 and September 15. The law
applies to the Indiana Department of transportation, railroads, drainage
districts, township boards, public utilities, and managers of public and
Weed Control Boards
A weed control board (for each county) is provided under IC 15-3-4.6.
This law permits the county commissioners to provide for a WCB by ordinance, on
their own initiative, or after receiving a petition for a WCB signed by at
least five percent of the registered voters of the county.
A WCB must consist of (1) one township trustee, (2) one SWCD supervisor, (3)
a representative of the agricultural community of the county, (4) a
representative from the county highway department, and (5) a CES Extension
Educator to serve in a non-voting advisory capacity.
Noxious weeds under the WCB are: Canada thistle, Johnson grass, bur cucumber
and shatter cane.
A WCB has broad powers of enforcement for the control of specified noxious
weeds. WCB may give notice to the landowner or to a person in possession of the
real estate if there is a failure to control the appropriate weeds. A WCB has
the authority to: employ staff to assist with WCB enforcement activities, enter
upon land after a 48-hour notice to inspect, hire custom operators to control
weeds, and to bill the appropriate party for control costs. A five-day notice
to remove noxious weeds (delivered by certified mail or the sheriff) consistent
with township trustee weed control activity, is required.
Further, the WCB must notify the appropriate township trustee of the fact
that a notice was sent to a person to remove weeds growing on real estate in
the trustee's township. When the WCB has incurred the weed control cost and the
billed party does not pay the bill, the bill can be collected in a manner
similar to property tax.
Failure to begin a program recommended by a WCB within the prescribed time, is a Class C infraction.
In a county with a weed control board (WCB), a township trustee may defer to
the WCB to take action where the trustee has identified real estate containing
detrimental plants. Where funding and specialized staff is in place, this
consolidation of effort may be efficient. However, the WCB is not obliged to
perform a task that is already a duty of a township trustee and may decline
jurisdiction and refer a weed control problem back to a township trustee.
Other Weed Control Statutes
1. The propagation of multiflora rose and purple
loosestrife is greatly restricted at IC 14-24-12.
2. County highway departments are required by IC 36-2-18 to control
detrimental plants defined in IC 15-3-4-1 and noxious weeds.
3. Likewise, the same weeds identified in IC 15-4-1 are to be controlled on railroad rightsofway according to IC 837. However, the penalty
for noncompliance is $25!
4. In the case of cemeteries, IC 231474, and both IC 231468&69
(township trustee) require destroying detrimental plants (as defined in IC
15-3-4-1), noxious weeds, and rank vegetation. Failure to do so may result in a
Class C infraction.
5. A flexible statute, IC 36-7-10.1, empowers legislative bodies of
municipalities or counties to adopt ordinances to require owners of real estate
to remove weeds and other rank vegetation growing on the property. This law provides
that the ordinances adopted must specify:
(1) The department of the municipality or county responsible for the
administration of the ordinance.
(2) The definition of weeds and rank vegetation.
(3) The height at which weeds or rank vegetation becomes a violation.
(4) The procedure for issuing notice to the owner of real property of a
violation of the ordinance.
(5) The procedure under which the municipality or county, or its
contractors, may enter real property to abate a violation of the ordinance if
the owner fails to abate the violation.
(6) The procedure for issuing a bill to a landowner for the costs incurred
by the municipality or county in abating the violation, including administrative
costs and removal costs.
(7) The procedure for appealing a notice of violation or a bill issued under
If there is a failure to pay a bill for weed control, the bill may be
collected along with the property taxes.
In the various weed control laws, there are references to "noxious
weeds." Noxious weeds are identified in the Indiana Seed Law [IC 15-4-1]. Seed law deals with the
allowable amounts of noxious weed seed that are permitted in other seeds sold for
agricultural, horticultural, and other uses. Seed labeling standards are
administered in Indiana by the
Seed Administrator in the Office of Indiana State Chemist and Seed
The Indiana Administrative Code [360 IAC 1-1-5] identifies noxious weed seeds in two groups: prohibited
and restricted noxious weed seed. Those in the prohibited category are
characterized as perennial weeds, which reproduce by seed and by underground
roots, stems, or other reproductive parts. When well established, they are
highly destructive and difficult to control by good cultural practices. Those
in the restricted category are very objectionable in fields, lawns, and
gardens, but can be controlled by good cultural practices.
Gerald A. Harrison is an Extension Economistis in
the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue