Virginia's Mowing Experiments

Report No: 81-R40

Published in 1981

About the report:

With construction of the interstate and arterial highway systems nearing completion, the Department's major concern has shifted to maintenance. Because the highways must be maintained to very high standards, the reduced buying power means that frugality and efficiency are essential. Consequently, the Department must continue to seek ways of cutting costs without reducing quality. As a part of this search, the Maintenance Division undertook an examination of the efficiency of many of its operations, and in this self-examination it questioned if the frequency of mowing along highways could be reduced without sacrificing aesthetics or safety. This questioning led the Department to conduct a five-year study to evaluate and modify its mowing standards. The research effort, which was jointly conducted by the Maintenance and Environmental Quality Divisions, the Department of Agronomy and Plant Pathology and Physiology at VPI & SU, and the Research Council, was primarily concerned with whether a well-planned, reduced mowing effort could be instituted without sacrifice of highway safety or aesthetics. During the study it was found that the mowing effort could be reduced without sacrifice by-1. delaying the first mowing until the seed heads of the cool season grasses were severed with this mowing; 2. mowing less frequently; 3. mowing less area; and 4. applying herbicides to help control weeds. Modified mowing standards recommended on the basis of the findings from the study are being implemented, and it is anticipated that these standards will reduce mowing costs by a half million dollars a year.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

David C. Mahone, W. R. Clements, R. L. Fink

Last updated: January 22, 2024

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