Roadside Plantings Enhance Delaware's Highways

By Charlie Nardozzi

Many interstate highways are lined with high-maintenance turf grass or planted in wildflower meadows that eventually need to be replanted frequently. The Delaware Department of Transportation along with the University of Delaware's Delaware Center for Horticulture, and horticulturist Rick Darke have envisioned a different approach. They have established 60 pilot sites throughout the state to use the natural beauty of the surrounding forest and meadows, with a little management, to create four seasons of color and interest along these public roads.

The approach is different depending on the location. One site may have native wildflowers that naturally self-sow, such as daisies, that are managed by mowing. Another site has stands of trees with attractive fall color that are augmented by selective pruning. A site may be pruned to create an attractive balance of deciduous and evergreen trees, while a native stand of hibiscus would be preserved and expanded to create a sweep of color.

Enhancing Delaware's highways not only creates oases of beauty along the public roadways, but preserves plants in the natural environment and saves the taxpayers money in maintenance costs.

To find out more about this program, visit

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