Trees and vegetation

Grass-cutting and weed control

We carry out grass-cutting on highway verges in areas that are key to maintaining visibility, such as at junctions, laybys, and the inside of bends. The aim of grass-cutting is to keep the highway safe and to maintain visibility for all road users. This has been agreed by Cabinet following the public consultation carried out in 2014.

Grass-cutting frequency

  • Grass-cutting in the visibility areas alongside rural roads is normally carried out once a year.
  • Rural roads that are more important to the network, such as A and B roads, may be cut more frequently, usually twice a year.
  • Grass-cutting in visibility areas alongside urban roads is undertaken up to four times a year sometimes by district and parish councils using a contribution from Devon County Council.
  • Grass-cutting may be done more frequently by city or district councils; this is at their discretion and is funded by them.

Additional cutting is done to facilitate maintenance work, such as surface treatment or ditch cleaning. Grass-cutting is also done to provide forward visibility to essential road signs. We will not cut grass at the access to private roads and drives.

Places where pedestrians are encouraged to cross, such as where a public right of way meets a road, are included.

Some hedges are also cut in visibility areas, even though they are the responsibility of the adjacent landowner.

Grass cutting is done as a planned programme.  Only report grass for cutting if it is affecting visibility and preventing a safe line of sight and stopping distance.

Devon County Council do not remove green waste following grass cutting works.  The waste is left on the verges to naturally rot down.

Urban highway grass cutting

If your parish or town council is interested in having more control over local grass cutting, we may be able to support you to procure and manage the work yourself and provide a financial contribution.

What to do if a verge in your area is no longer being maintained

Communities are encouraged to work together and help each other to deliver minor maintenance work.

Our Devon Highways Community Road Warden and Self-Help Schemes can help to support your community to ensure that self-help is well managed and that resources are used effectively and work is carried out safely.

If you are a community self-help group carrying out grass cutting or weed pulling contact your local Highways Team before starting work. We can talk to you about pre-purchasing green commercial waste disposal tickets so that you can dispose of the waste at Devon County Council recycling centres. This fee can’t be waived as we can’t make reductions in one service only to pick up the costs in another. To deal with the waste you could also:

  • take small amounts home for composting
  • speak to local allotment associations or community composting groups about using it
  • leave it on the verges to rot down.

Management of verges for the benefit of wildlife

Road verges are a vital refuge for wildlife including many plants, birds, mammals and insects. Sensitive management is required if we want to maintain verges as wildflower habitats. We are encouraging communities to work together to manage its verges for wildlife.

Weed management

We do not treat unsightly weeds. However, we may sometimes carry out weed-spraying in some drainage systems, on high-priority roads, and before constructing new footpaths. We may also spray weeds during highway maintenance work to prevent damage to the structure or surface of roads and paths.

Noxious weeds

We don’t carry out treatment of noxious weeds. However, we will assess any reports which allege that noxious weeds on DCC land have caused growth, or have spread onto private land.

Recording Knotweed in Devon

Japanese knotweed occurs in most parts of the County.  It is mainly found in gardens, on road verges, river banks, railway embankments and waste ground.

Without surveying and recording the distribution of Japanese Knotweed there is no way of knowing where it occurs, whether it is increasing and the typical habitats it colonises. Knowing the full extent of the problem of Japanese Knotweed colonisation in the county will help identify priorities for control and management. It is therefore important to report any sightings of the plant in the county to the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.  For more information on Japanese Knotweed please visit the Natural Devon website.