For the past 5 years, we have evaluated more than 100 herbaceous perennial groundcovers, including both grasses and grass mixtures, as well as ornamental broadleaf materials, for their ability to establish, suppress weeds, provide aesthetic appeal, and resist pests in various landscape and roadside settings across New York State. By working in cooperation with the NYSDOT, we have developed recommendations for materials that have performed well in difficult, potentially stressful, roadside and landscape settings. We have performed replicated research and demonstration trials that have clearly shown that certain species and cultivars provide effective weed suppression; great aesthetic appeal due to foliar texture, color, or flowering, resist pests and diseases; and require low maintenance over time. In addition, certain materials tolerate high levels of salt (NaCl), simulating roadside salt application exposure, in supplemental greenhouse studies. Materials generally suppressed weeds effectively by forming a dense canopy in a short period of time, and reducing light interception at the soil surface under this dense canopy. Certain groundcovers also appeared to exhibit strong potential allelopathic properties when grown either in field or laboratory settings. The selection of new plant materials for use in low-maintenance landscape settings offers potential to reduce time and maintenance inputs in difficult landscape or roadside settings, with the added benefit of reducing pesticide application in these settings for weed management. Additional studies are currently underway to develop further recommendations for use of warm- and cool-season turfgrasses in these settings.
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