Corteva Br Aug2020 19

Is Your VM Program Grass Friendly?

Aug. 9, 2023
Compatible grasses and lower-lying beneficial plant species are crucial to a healthy utility right-of-way. Explore how you can help them thrive while keeping incompatible plant species out of your right-of-way (ROW) corridors.

Trees, brush and other incompatible plant species growing near utility infrastructure are the primary target of vegetation managers. Ensuring compatible grasses and lower-lying beneficial plant species thrive — while their incompatible counterparts don’t — is crucial to a healthy utility right-of-way.

When vegetation is treated exclusively with mechanical mowing strategies, those incompatible species have nothing to prevent them from re-establishing, which eventually leads to them choking out beneficial plant-species and leading management crews right back to where they started.

Implementing an integrated Vegetation Managment (IVM) strategy that complements mowing-based strategies with selective herbicide applications is a highly effective approach to enhancing results achieved through mowing practices. By selectively controlling incompatible trees and brush species, vegetation managers can nurture the development of low-growing native plant communities.

Selective Herbicide Applications

Selectively targeting incompatible vegetation supports the growth of desirable plant species that provide a biological barrier against future woody plant establishment. With less ground cover to occupy, trees and incompatible brush species slowly disappear. Subsequently, as incompatible stem densities dwindle, other economic and environmental benefits emerge, like enhancing long-term site accessibility for service crews and reducing recurring maintenance costs.

Other benefits of using selective herbicide applications as part of an IVM strategy to support the development of early successional plant communities includes the development of native grasses, beneficial forbs and shrubs that are predominantly compatible with native wildlife species. 

Protecting Pollinators

Native flowering plants, host plants and nesting sites disappear with the establishment of incompatible vegetation — and the same goes for pollinators like bees and butterflies. Loss of habitat has significantly lowered pollinator populations in recent years, presenting environmentally minded utility companies with the opportunity to leverage millions of ROW acres as sites that not only enhance electrical transmission reliability but also the conservation of habitat for pollinators and a variety of other wildlife species.

Thinking Long Term         

Reducing the number of trees on utility ROW effectively mitigates the risk of future lapses in utility service that can be caused by incompatible vegetation interfering with utility infrastructure. Using an IVM-based approach to support the development of low-growing plant communities enhances long-term site accessibility for service crews and supports the establishment of fuel breaks that provide areas where first responders can combat wildfires more safely and effectively.  A long-term outlook also allows vegetation managers to significantly reduce recurring maintenance costs driven by exclusive mowing practices, which allows programs to reallocate resources to priority sites or other programmatic needs.

Simply put, if your IVM strategy allows native grasses and desirable plant species in place of incompatible trees and brush species, you're working with a grass-friendly approach that can benefit your right-of-way management program for years to come.

Visit to learn more about products, solutions and application strategies that align with an IVM-based approach.

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