Expanding the Success of Salt-Tolerant Roadside Turfgrasses through Innovation and Education

Principal Investigator(s):

Eric Watkins, Professor, Horticultural Science


  • Sam Bauer, Assistant Extension Professor, UM Extension

Project summary:

The University of Minnesota has been working with several partners for over four years to develop and implement salt-tolerant grasses in roadside settings. The result of this effort has been the introduction and use of salt-tolerant sod and seed mixtures that are made up primarily of fine fescue species. Through on-site assessments, this study has determined that, even with the use of these improved mixtures, there is an unacceptably high number of installation failures. The study has concluded that these failures are due to many factors, including improper pre- and post-installation watering, poor soil preparation, seasonal weather influence, poor rooting of fine fescue grasses cut for sod, and lack of nutrients. Of these, the primary problem appears to be improper watering during establishment. Current watering practices are insufficient for fine fescue sod, and new options need to be identified and implemented in a way that makes economic sense for MnDOT and sod/seed installers. This project expands on a current LRRB-funded project that is determining the most important factors associated with roadside, salt-tolerant grass establishment (i.e., best time of year to sod, how to amend the soil, how much water is needed, etc.). This project is using information from the previously-funded project to 1) develop systems that can be used in the field by installers and 2) educate and train stakeholders involved in this important component of road construction.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016004
  • Start date: 04/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment