NCDOT currently has to maintain vegetation under and around over 1000 miles of median rail, with approximately $40 million spent in fiscal year 2019 for mowing. Zoysiagrasses are known to be a thick sod-producing turfgrass that once adequately established are low-growing and have minimal weed invasion. Establishing zoysiagrass along non-irrigated roadside shoulders has proven problematic. Research project 2018-02 evaluated, in a small plot format, several establishment options. Seeding and vegetative establishment employing newly created mechanical methodologies were evaluated. In addition, from the NCSU 2017-2018 breeding nursery containing 95 F1 hybrid Zoysiagrasses, 5 experimental (non-released) vegetative zoysiagrass selections were evaluated under roadside conditions.
A narrow-bladed selection (XZ14069) and wide-bladed selection (XZ14070) are showing promise for roadside applications. Findings from this research need to be expanded to ‘operational-sized’ roadside plots for further evaluation. Additionally, new breeding materials need to be evaluated and advanced for their ability to establish from seed. The outcome of this research will provide NCDOT with information so that they can select the best germplasm for the establishment and long-term maintenance of NC roadsides.