Best Management Practices for Establishment of Salt-Tolerant Grasses on Roadsides

Principal Investigator:

Eric Watkins, Assistant Professor, Horticultural Science


Project Summary:

Roadsides are a unique growing environment for turfgrasses and can be a challenge to establish and maintain. The University of Minnesota turfgrass research program has been investigating low-input turfgrasses that are better adapted for roadsides, and a previous research project identified a new mixture for use on Minnesota roadsides that was able to perform adequately under pressure form road salt (MNST-12). As this new mixture was used, it became apparent that more research was needed to better understand how to improve establishment and performance by adjusting typical roadside maintenance practices. In this project, researchers developed a series of experiments addressing three areas: 1) pre-establishment soil amendments, 2) planting date, and 3) watering during establishment. The study found that soil amendments had little effect on roadside turf performance. Researchers found that seeding of low-input roadside mixtures such as MNST-12 should be performed in late summer, while sodding can be done throughout the growing season (assuming that soil moisture is properly maintained). Finally, based on the study's findings, it is recommended that current Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) specifications for watering of new roadside turf installations be changed, especially for mixtures with high proportions of fine fescue.


Project Details:

  • Start date: 05/2013
  • Project Status: Completed
  • Research Area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment