The plants that grow along Nebraska's roadsides may occur naturally, may have been intentionally planted, or may have been carried there by wind, water, wildlife, or a passing vehicle. Roadside vegetation performs functions that benefit people and their environment. In part, those benefits include:


Safety. Low-growing vegetation on highway shoulders maintains sight distances free of physical obstructions and visibility problems. Hazard-free zones for errant vehicles are vegetated by grasses and other appropriate vegetation. Roadside vegetation also can reduce the effects of blowing and drifting snow on highways.


Economic.  Presence of grasses is especially effective in minimizing erosion around culvert pipes and other highway facilities and structures. Properly maintained vegetation extends the life of and protects highway features (e.g., culvert pipes, box culverts, and field driveways) by reducing costly erosion events on roadsides. In addition, the appearance of roadsides is a significant part of a visitor’s experience. Tourists that have a good traveling experience are more likely to return, thus aiding local economies.


Erosion Control. Vegetation is the most effective and efficient form of erosion control. When effectively established and maintained, vegetation can protect shoulders, ditches and slopes by reducing erosion and increasing general stability.


Environmental. Water quality is improved by vegetation's abilities in trapping sediment and increasing water infiltration. Roadside corridors constitute a significant area of land, offering production of oxygen and a trap for carbon dioxide. In addition, a good stand of roadside vegetation doesn't leave spaces for noxious or invasive weeds to thrive.


Aesthetic. Healthy vegetation appropriate for the area gives an attractive appearance to the roadway. Use of native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees aid the permanence of the look. The traveling public gauges what they're getting for their money in part by what they see in the roadside. 


Document: Plan for the Roadside Environment

This manual compiles environmental and sociological information about Nebraska, providing a foundation for better understanding Nebraska landscapes and the highway corridors within their environment. 



Roadside Flowers & Grasses

Flowers and grasses do not recognize state borders, and many Nebraska specimens are found throughout the Midwest. In addition to the info provided here by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, we also provide links to additional resources.


Additional Information