Road verges and housing estates

Until relatively recently road verge mixtures have been required to contain a higher percentage of a vigorous agricultural perennial ryegrass and Crested Dogstail. Unfortunately these grasses require a high level of maintenance, especially mowing, so as to keep the herbage to a reasonable height. Such a mixture is very competitive and does not allow for the more desirable species of wild flora to develop naturally.

Instead, the choice of grasses specified should be chosen so that they are able to blend in with the surrounding environment as well as giving a good ground cover.

There is a wide range of fine grasses available and, as with other industries, certain materials will give the best results in a given situation – this is also true of grasses. In recent years plant breeders have introduced a new range of turf type perennial ryegrasses which are quick to establish and naturally low growing, thus requiring little or no maintenance in the form of cutting when sown on a road verge.

Creeping Red Fescue produces slender rhizomes which help to stabilise soils and banks and will establish on poor light soils. Smooth-Stalked Meadow Grass, whilst slow to germinate, also produces rhizomes and is nearly always found in meadows and  pastures, and performs well in shady areas. Bent grasses help to form a good base in any mixture and form particularly well on poor soils.

The benefits of White Clover have already been widely covered in this manual and their inclusion within a verge mix is advisable as they grow on almost every kind of soil and, being deep rooting, will stand the effects of drought on dry sandy soils in particular. The nodules on a clover root system provide free nitrogen which is quickly taken up by other grasses in a mixture and helps to stimulate growth.

In our recent economic environment it has become even more crucial to ensure that only the cultivars requiring minimal maintenance are selected for inclusion as the various authorities no longer have the finances available to cut large areas of road verges. For motorway and road verge use it is suggested that the following mixture be considered, as it utilises the modern amenity varieties with all the previously explained benefits and adheres to the Department of Transport’s stated specifications.

A18 Road verge mixture

Product Name A18 (Road Verge and Embankments)
Mixture Breakdown 2.50% ABERACE (SMALL) W CLOVER (Trifolium repens)
12.5% PILLAR PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)
40.0% DIPPER STRONG CREEPING RED FESCUE (Festuca rubra rubra)
20.0% TETRIS SMOOTH STALKED MEADOW GRASS (Poa pratensis)
5.0% HIGHLAND BROWNTOP BENTGRASS (Agrostis castellana)
10.0% JOANNA CHEWINGS FESCUE (Festuca Rubra Commutata)
10.0% ZURICH PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)

View A18

For housing estate verges, where reasonably quick establishment is required and where the turf will be subject to a fair amount of hard wear and abuse, the following mixture is recommended. The resulting sward will produce an attractive appearance but will require cutting every two or three weeks depending on the height of cut.

A19 Housing Estate Mixture

Product Name A19 (All Purpose Landscaping)
Mixture Breakdown 25.0% PILLAR PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)
35.0% DIPPER STRONG CREEPING RED FESCUE (Festuca rubra rubra)
5.00% HIGHLAND BROWNTOP BENTGRAS (Agrostis castellana)
10.0% ABERCHARM SLENDER CREEPING RED FESCUE (Festuca rubra litoralis)
25.0% ZURICH PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)

View A19

For rural areas where a more natural mixture containing a high percentage of fine grasses would be desirable, the following mixture is worthy of consideration as it requires little or no cutting.

A4 Parkland Mixture

Product Name A4 (Low Maintenance Areas)
Mixture Breakdown 20.0% ABERFLEECE SHEEPS FESCUE (Festuca ovina)
65.0% RELEVANT STRONG CREEPING RED FESCUE (Festuca rubra rubra)
5.00% HIGHLAND BROWNTOP BENTGRASS (Agrostis castellana)
10.0% JOANNA CHEWINGS FESCUE (Festuca Rubra Commutata)

View A4

For road verges and housing estates where it is essential to have a really low-growing turf which requires the absolute minimum of cutting, we recommend A22 Low Maintenance Mixture.

A22 Low Maintenance Mixture

Product Name A22 (Low Maintenance)
Mixture Breakdown 20.0% CABRIO PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)
5.00% HIGHLAND BROWNTOP BENTGRASS (Agrostis castellana)
35.0% ABERCHARM SLENDER CREEPING RED FESCUES (Festuca rubra rubra)
40.00% PROMOTOR PERENNIAL RYEGRASS (Lolium perenne)

View A22

Combatting Salt contamination

Salt application to major roads is vital for road safety but high levels of salt in soils can inhibit the establishment of seed mixtures on motorway verges. The use of a specialist fertiliser such as Agrosil LR that can lock up excess salt in the soil will be a major benefit to establishing grass mixtures in these areas.

View Agrosil – Correction of Nutrient imbalance

Solar Parks

Under EU law, the UK government is obliged to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2030.  In doing so, it has to ensure that 15% of UK energy consumption comes from renewable sources, and has set a target for solar energy production to reach 20 gigawatts – the equivalent of one traditional gas or coal fired power station.

This requirement has resulted in the development of a large number solar parks which, as well as providing low carbon energy, have the potential to offer additional environmental benefits such as the provision of ecologically rich environments in which native wildlife can thrive.  Indeed, many solar parks are only granted planning permission on the basis that they are planted with a seed mixture that will improve the land’s bio-diversity.

Wildflowers Mixtures and Solar Parks

Naturally these areas lend themselves to the sowing of wildflower mixtures and many wildflower mixtures could be applicable to a specific site depending upon parameter such as the soil type, aspect or a desire for specific species of wildflower to be included., however a broad choice that will be suitable for Solar Parks in most instances would be our RE1 Traditional Hay Meadow which could be mown or strimmed down to 40mm more than once a year if required and once established as a sward it can be maintained by light grazing by sheep at an appropriate stocking rate More detailed advice on the establishment and maintenance of wildflower mixtures is covered in our section on wildflowers.

Low maintenance mixtures for Solar Parks

Any of the mixtures outlined within the section of this website Strategies for Low Maintenance Areas would be appropriate for use in a solar park but perhaps best would be AberSustain. AberSustain is a low maintenance, self-sustaining mixture which is perfect for open parkland areas, domestic lawns, road verges and for solar parks The mixture negates the requirement for costly applications of fertiliser and is unique because a large percentage of the varieties are UK bred from the IBERS breeding programme. As such they are ideally suited to UK conditions, All the varieties are chosen to complement each other perfectly, with AberAce white clover featured for its ability to synthesise nitrogen and sustain the sward. This creates a mixture that is environmentally and economically sustainable and therefore perfect for the time in which we now live.