Develop a county weed control program that provides:

  • Responsible weed control
  • Wise use of taxpayer dollars

Groundwater and surface water protection

An integrated approach to roadside vegetation management means relying on a variety of weed control methods: mechanical, biological, chemical and cultural. IRVM emphasizes cultural control — establishing and promoting healthy, native vegetation – and tries not to rely exclusively on herbicides for controlling weeds.

Establish native vegetation

Native vegetation is the cornerstone of IRVM. Plant the best-adapted vegetation and keep it healthy. Iowa native plants are naturally adapted to the state’s climate and growing conditions. They handle tough roadside conditions. Their tall growth and deep roots help prevent weeds. Keep the natives healthy with the use of prescribed fire.

Do not overuse herbicides

Overuse of herbicides weakens all vegetation, making roadsides more susceptible to invasion by weeds. Overuse of herbicides also eliminates desirable and harmless broadleaf species that would otherwise reduce weed invasion by occupying the same niche sought by weeds. For these reasons IRVM promotes careful spot-treatment of weeds when using herbicides.

Consider mowing

Mowing must be considered before resorting to herbicides. The effectiveness of mowing depends on target species and timing. The feasibility of mowing depends on roadside slope and available equipment. County road right-of-way is often not suited to tractors. Still, spot-mowing for weed control is encouraged and counties should look for ways to make this a more frequent and viable weed control option.

Pay attention to timing

Timing is key to successful vegetation management; the effectiveness of mowing and spraying depends on it. IRVM recommends hiring a full-time roadside manager as the best way to provide professional, proactive and systemic weed control.

Keep goals realistic

IRVM recognizes there is no such thing as total weed eradication, so have realistic goals. Accept the presence of some weeds and keep them at a manageable level. Weed species that post no real threat to agriculture or natural areas should be tolerated. Prioritize weed control efforts, beginning with highly traveled roads.