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 policy and frequency

As mentioned above, grass cutting by Devon County Council is only carried out for safety reasons in visibility areas.  Places where pedestrians are encouraged or required to cross, such as where a public right of way (PROW) meets the road, are also included under our policy.

While our policy does include provision for cutting privately owned hedges in previously mentioned visibility areas, despite being the responsibility of the relevant landowner, Devon County Council does not and will not cut grass at the access to private roads and drives under our current policy.

Regarding the frequency of cutting we will cut grass that meets our criteria on the following schedule:

  • Rural roads on the priority network, such as A and B class roads, are cut 2-3 times a year.
  • Other non-priority rural roads are cut once a year.
  • Grass-cutting in visibility areas with speed restriction of 40 MPH and under (referred to in our policy as “urban” roads) is undertaken up to four times a year, sometimes by district and town/parish councils using a contribution from Devon County Council.

*Note that while grass-cutting may be done more frequently by city or district councils, this is at their discretion and is funded by them.

Additional off-policy cutting may be done where required to facilitate maintenance work, such as surface treatment or ditch cleaning, though this will be one off and not added to routine works unless required under the existing policy criteria.

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

Remember, only report grass for cutting if it is affecting visibility and preventing a safe line of sight and stopping distance.

Information for Parish and Town Councils

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. Please contact grasscutting@devon.gov.uk to get more information or if you have an interest or questions relating to this support.

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.