REDMOND, Ore. -

If you think keeping up your yard is tough, imagine maintaining a city.

"Weeds, tree trimming, yard debris, there's so much we have to take care of in the summertime," Redmond Public Works spokesman David Bergstrom said Friday.

Bergstrom said between painting roads, maintaining signs and other roadwork, the city has a full plate.

But they're getting help from a group you might not expect.

If it wasn't for a Deschutes County sheriff's inmate work crew, the weeds would keep growing.

"Oh they do a really, really good job," Bergstrom said of the work crew. "There's so much we would get behind on. There were weeds this high along the sidewalk, so they pulled all that."

Inmate work crews keep the roadways spic and span, but their work also makes a really big difference to the cities' bottom lines.

Redmond Transportation Manager Rob Peters said the city only pays $63 an hour for the eight-man crew and their two guards -- less than half the cost to hire seasonal workers.

A new partnership is also bringing the crews to Sisters for the first time.

City Manager Andrew Gorayeb said the extra TLC is taking Sisters to a new standard.

"We just don't have the budget or staff to do the work they're able to do for us. So it works out really well," Gorayeb said.

Sheriff's Capt. Michael Espinoza said the crews do work for governmental agencies and sometimes non-profits.

"(We're) trying to get involved in assignments or task that not only help the community, but help those organizations that are requesting our assistance," Espinoza said.

It's a program that's been around for about 10 years, highly desirable to organizations -- and popular with inmates.

"This is their community as well. For them to be able to give back, and for them to work that hard and diligent, it gives them a pat on the back," Espinoza said.

Taxpayer dollars are spent improving the community rather than sitting in jail.

"These guys are really beneficial to us to maintain our level of service to the city of Redmond," Bergstrom said.