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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Establishment of Sustainable Native Wildflower and Grass Meadows for Maryland Highway Roadsides
Year: 2005
Author(s): Ugiansky, R. J.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 139-140
Original Publication:  
Abstract: A cooperative project with the Maryland State Highway Administration was initiated in 1999 and continued through 2003 to study the establishment and maintenance of native meadows comprised of diverse grasses and wildflowers native to Maryland. The objective of this study was to develop practical methods of establishing mixes of native wildflowers and grasses, taking into consideration time of year, seedbed preparation, equipment needed, and post-planting treatments. Native grass (13 species) and wildflowers (30 species) including currently underutilized but commercially available species were assessed for suitability of use along highway roadsides. Seeding mixes were developed using appropriate species of wildflowers and grasses to provide a primary matrix for cover and provide a sustainable wildflower display. Maintenance requirements were also assessed that would be required to keep the meadow sustainable. Based on the results of plot trials, meadow areas were established along the I-95 corridor of Maryland. From the results, standards and guidelines were developed that may be used by Maryland State Highway Administration and others for seeding roadside wildflower mixes. Plots were seeded in June 2000, May 2001, and November 2001 and were evaluated in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Of the 43 native species tested, 29 proved reliable and cost effective for direct seeding along the highway. Among those species most suitable for highway seeding included Andropogon virginicus, Bouteloua curtipendula, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Elymus virginicus, Schizachyrium scoparium, Sporobolus cryptandrus, Tridens flavus, Asclepias tuberosa, Aster novae-angliae, Aster prenanthoides, Chamaecrista fasciculata, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Heliopsis helianthoides, Lespedeza capitata, Monarda fistulosa, Penstemon digitalis, Rudbeckia hirta, and Rudbeckia triloba. The seed mix which included tall warm-season grasses was not suitable for the display of wildflowers. Of the 10 establishment treatments, only the dormant seeded plots resulted in poor establishment due to extreme weed pressure. No-till treatment provided better control of weeds and greater control of seeding depth. A few plots located in wetter soil experienced moderate weed pressure along with aggressive competition from Agrostis alba, which was included in several mixes as a nurse crop. Excellent weed control prior to seeding was attained in all other plots, which resulted in relatively few weeds and quick establishment in the first year. Mowing, in the maintenance trials, was beneficial when weed pressure was significant. A 4 oz per acre post-emergent PlateauŽ treatment did not control established weeds but also did not significantly harm the established native species. A 4 oz per acre pre-emergent PlateauŽ treatment was very effective in controlling establishment of weeds but prevented the establishment of some of the seeded species. Despite a variety of initial site conditions, the seeding of diverse mixes resulted in successful meadow establishment with a variable species composition that was affected primarily by the initial site conditions and timing of seeding. The most significant factor contributing to successful establishment was the excellent weed control prior to seeding, achieved by several properly timed treatments of glyphosate in the months prior to seeding and another treatment within four days prior to or after seeding. Late spring planting was ideal, allowing adequate time for weed control and for rapid germination and establishment immediately following seeding.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes