Perennial wildflowers in Iowa/roadside ditches

Asked August 16, 2013, 5:48 PM EDT

I live in Clive, Iowa but am from Marcus, Iowa originally. There is about a 1/2 mile roadside ditch on each side of Highway #3 immediately south of the town of Marcus. I am interested to find out if it would be possible to plant colorful perennial wildflowers in those ditches? If so, what flowers would be most appropriate in that location; how do you work around the issue of mowing ditches where flowers are planted; will the county (Cherokee County) work with a community in that kind of effort to minimize chemical exposure and mowing off the new flowers; and who is the appropiate person to speak with about that type of project. In parts of Central Texas, for example, Lady Bird Johnson was instrumental in planting Indian Paintbrush and Bluebonnets that fill both ditches for miles on end along certain roadways. San Diego has floral plantings along some of its expressways. They are gorgeous to behold. Is that possible in our state, and in particular, in NW Iowa (outside Marcus, in Cherokee County)? Fred Dorr (Phone #515.283.1801 (W))

Cherokee County Iowa

1 Response

I believe you need to get a permit from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Mark Masteller (Chief Landscape Architect at the Iowa Department of Transportation) should be able to provide additional information. He can be reached at

Also, the article at the following website might be of interest.