, Eric Watkins
, Brian Horgan
Failure of roadside grass installations due to high levels of road salt is a common occurrence in Minnesota. Several species
that are not currently included in the MnDOT recommendations for these sites have performed well in low-input turfgrass
evaluations in Minnesota and warranted evaluation for salt tolerance and suitability for roadside environments. The goal of
this project was to develop a recommended mixture or a set of mixtures that provide salt-tolerant sod for roadsides. In the first
part of this research, cultivars of cool-season turfgrass were assessed for their ability to establish and survive on roadsides in
Minnesota. Concurrently, these grasses were evaluated in a hydroponic system in the greenhouse for salinity tolerance.
Together, these studies identified several species and cultivars that were promising for use on Minnesota roadsides. These
top-performing grasses were then evaluated in a series of mixtures in three research trials: (1) a roadside evaluation at two
locations in Minnesota; (2) a sod strength trial planted at two locations in Minnesota; and (3) an acute drought evaluation
utilizing an automated rainout shelter. From these results, we identified species that should be components of a salt-tolerant
turfgrass mixture for use on roadsides in Minnesota. Mixtures that included high proportions of fine fescues, especially hard
fescue and slender creeping red fescue, performed the best in our trials indicating that these species should be utilized in
MnDOT recommendations for turf grown on roadsides.
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