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Planting in ditches

Many properties are bordered by a ditch along the road within the VDOT easement. Maintaining turf grass and mowing in those ditches may be difficult. The ditch may grow deeper and deeper as stormwater erodes the soil. You are allowed to plant in these locations but of course must avoid doing anything that might divert water onto the road—a tree would not be a good idea in that location! If it is in an area where VDOT mows periodically, the plants will need to be able to tolerate that. If the road is salted during the winter, choose plants that can tolerate salt as well as wet. Examples include

  • Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

  • Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium dubium and fistulosum)

  • Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

  • Flat-topped Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

  • Swamp Rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

  • Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

  • Scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma)

  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

  • Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

  • Narrow-leafed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium)

  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

  • Rough Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

  • New York Aster (Symphyotricum novi-belgii)

  • Marsh Fern (Thelypteris palustris)

  • Purple-top Grass (Tridens flavus)

  • Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)

Salt tolerant sedges and rushes

  • Gray's Sedge (Carex grayii)

  • Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea)

  • Common Rush (Juncus effusus)


Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) (pictured) is a particularly good choice, as it loves to grow in ditches naturally and can tolerate sun or shade, wet or dry.


Planting bigger plants instead of small plugs can keep them from being washed away before they get established.

Packera aurea.jpg

Packera aurea Golden Ragwort

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