Regional Roadside Turfgrass Testing Program
Eric Watkins, Jon Trappe, Kristine Moncada, Mark Renz, Doug Soldat, William Kreuser, James Murphy, Kevin Frank
Report no. MnDOT 2019-38
Roadsides are a challenging environment for successfully establishing turfgrass. Site-specific stresses demand multi-site testing of grasses and grass mixtures. This study evaluated 60 entries that varied by cultivar, species, or mixture by establishing on-site trials in MI, MN, NE, NJ, and WI. The entries tested included 50 individual cultivars and 10 standard mixtures, two from each participating state based on their current specifications. One location in each state was along an urban or suburban street with a curb, while the second location was along a rural highway without a curb having a ditch that slopes away from the road with a daily traffic volume of at least 30,000 vehicles. Plots were seeded at most sites in late summer 2016, and data were collected through spring 2018. Turfgrass performance was assessed by counting living turf cover, weed cover, and bare soil using the grid intersect method in the spring and fall of each year. Species and cultivar performance varied among locations. Several species showed potential for inclusion in effective mixtures. Other species performed well at some locations and poorly at others. Performance of standard mixtures was also inconsistent across locations. This research demonstrates the need for locally generated data on roadside turfgrass performance.