What You Need to Know About Vegetation and Roadways

You already do a lot to keep roadways clean and safe in your municipality. You hire street sweepers. You schedule regular repairs. However, despite your efforts, your roads still don’t look as attractive as you would like. The vegetation around them has grown out of control. In some cases, the plants have invaded the asphalt.

You want to give your city the most pristine appearance possible. After all, you can’t attract new residents or new businesses otherwise.

To that end, you need to find some way to control vegetation before it turns a minor cosmetic issue into a serious safety hazard. Below, we’ll tell you more about vegetation management, including why it matters and how it works.

The Importance of Vegetation Management

Vegetation doesn’t usually pose a threat to your roads. In fact, it can often give them a more charming appearance because it adds a soft, green backdrop for the hard asphalt. However, if you do not manage the plants around your streets, the grasses, weeds, and blooms can cause major problems.

In particular, wild grasses can germinate and grow in even the tiniest pavement cracks. As those grasses become larger, their roots will force the cracks to widen and deepen. The road’s structure will eventually collapse from this pressure, and you’ll have expensive asphalt repairs on your hands.

Additionally, if roots from trees, bushes, or other large plants extend underneath the pavement, their growth could make the roadside buckle. Cracks and protruding pieces create unsafe driving conditions for motorists.

So, if you want to keep your roads safe, you have to keep the vegetation under control.

Reasons Not to Clear All Plants

Vegetation management doesn’t mean that you use herbicide on every plant that comes near your pavement. Instead, trim and care for the plants because they benefit your roads in the following ways:

  1. They prevent erosion. If your city experiences high winds, heavy rainfall, or flooding, you need vegetation around your roads to keep the soil anchored. Plant roots keep the dirt from washing away, so your roads will still have a solid surface to support them.

Additionally, as soil erodes, it often blows into the air or onto the road and creates a hazard. A high windstorm may pick up so much soil that it limits drivers’ visibility. Or the dust may simply cover the road and fly into the air as tires roll over it. The soil can also create mudslides that bog down vehicles or cause accidents.

Luckily, vegetation prevents the soil from causing these issues.

  1. They give drivers something interesting to look at. Truckers and commuters spend a lot of time looking at dark pavement. They need something interesting to look at that refreshes their eyes and helps them feel alert. Bare dirt won’t give them the needed visual contrast that a little bit of greenery will.
  2. They support local wildlife. Sometimes roadside vegetation represents the last vestiges of a region’s native plant life. Other vegetation provides a valuable habitat for native species. Preserve these plants and don’t clear all plant life away.

Ways to Manage Vegetation Responsibly

  1. To keep the proper balance between too much roadside vegetation and too little, use the following strategies.

Cut away foliage that obscures signs and sight lines. Drivers need to see stop signs and barriers. They also need the ability to see around corners so they don’t get in accidents. Clear foliage away from these areas once or twice a year.

  1. Grade the shoulder so plants don’t create ditch in the road. When vegetation has a dense population next to your streets, it can often create a higher shoulder that interferes with pavement drainage. Your asphalt may flood or erode, and either problem makes the road unsafe.

Grade the soil and the plant life on either side of the road to restore drainage.

  1. Remove trees that grow too close to the road. Many fatalities happen every year because drivers lose control of their cars and hit thick trees. Sturdy, old trees should stand well away from the roadside.

If trees near your roads have trunks more than four inches thick, relocate them or chop them down. If you decide to chop them, don’t forget to grind the stump until it no longer poses a tripping or collision hazard.

  1. Mow grasses and weeds so they don’t germinate or grow too tall. Not only will this strategy keep the vegetation under control, but it will make your roads look more manicured and attractive as well.

Mow the area at least twice a month, but do it more often if the plants grow out of control more often.

  1. Use herbicides only when the plants grow in the road, not near it. Only use herbicides when absolutely necessary-you don’t want to introduce more chemicals into the environment, especially if the vegetation includes native plant life. So, unless the plants grow directly into your pavement, put the weed killer away.


If vegetation management seems like a lot of work, don’t worry-you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to perform the tasks above.

Instead, hire a roadside maintenance or street sweeping company to do these things for you. You’ll get the gorgeous streets your city deserve, and you can turn your attention to more pressing duties.