DPW's Roadside Vegetation Management Program

Road Maintenance Manager: Richard Pettie


The Department of Public Works (DPW) manages vegetation trimming along nearly 2,000 miles of County-maintained roads within unincorporated communities. The purpose of the Roadside Vegetation Management Program is to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and other users.  The program involves mowing tall grass and weeds within ten feet of the roadside. This helps to enhance visibility for motorists, ensures clear sightlines for traffic signs, reduces roadside obstacles, and provides a usable area for motorists to pull over in case of emergencies.  The program also helps prevent vegetation from becoming fuel for wildfires, especially on evacuation routes.

DPW mows approximately 800 lane miles annually as shown on the map here. Vegetation is mowed up to ten feet from the pavement's edge on County-maintained roads, as long as it is feasible to do so within the public road right-of-way and does not encroach on private properties. Tree's within the County's right-of-way are maintained by the County at no cost to you. Fore more information on tree trimming, see the County's Tree Trimming page

Additionally, San Diego County Fire is leading a “Roadside Vegetation Management for Evacuation Preparedness” program, which focuses on performing additional vegetation management up to 20-feet wide along key evacuation routes in the unincorporated area. County Fire is responsible for carrying out this additional vegetation management, which may include some DPW-maintained roadways.  For more information on County Fire’s program, you can email: FireCRR@sdcounty.ca.gov

Vegetation Control Methods

DPW utilizes several vegetation control methods, including mechanized mowers, hand tools, and herbicides.  In some instances, multiple methods are used in combination to ensure successful vegetation control.

Environmental Considerations

Thorough review of the areas to be mowed has been completed. DPW typically only mows previously disturbed areas that have been routinely mowed in the past. Environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands, sensitive plants, and habitats are avoided completely. 

Herbicide Applications

DPW coordinates with the County of San Diego, Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures’ (AWM) Integrated Pest Control Program to conduct herbicide applications, where needed, to slow the regrowth of vegetation. All herbicide treatments adhere to all federal and State laws pertaining to pesticide use and are made by State-licensed and trained staff. 

The County regularly reviews its policies on these applications and considers industry innovation and best practices to keep current on vegetation management strategies. For any further questions pertaining to the use and application of herbicide, please contact the Integrated Pest Control Program (IPC.AWM@sdcounty.ca.gov, 858-614-7750) at AWM regarding County policy and application practices. 

Featured Links:

Interactive GIS Map of County Roadside Vegetation Management Program: ArcGIS Enterprise - DPW Roadside Vegetation Management Program (sandiegocounty.gov)

Maintenance of tree's within County's ROW: DPW Tree Trimming

County of San Diego, Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures’ Integrated Pest Control Program

California Department of Pesticide Regulation Pesticide Questions Webpage: Pesticide Questions? (ca.gov)

US Environmental Protection Agency Pesticide Labeling Questions & Answers: Pesticide Labeling Questions & Answers | US EPA

EPA Webpage on glyphosate: https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/glyphosate