Where there are roads, there’s roadside vegetation trying to take over. Maintaining roadside areas takes a great deal of work, and some pretty nifty tractor implements.

Roadside vegetation presents a significant safety issue. The roots of trees growing close to the road can push up asphalt, branches and leaves can obscure road signs, and limbs can fall on the road – and occasionally on vehicles! Brush, grasses and weeds can grow over the roadway, obscuring vision and damaging the edges of the road. Road safety requires cleared shoulders and well-trimmed trees.

Does your road need roadside vegetation control? Here’s what to check:

  • Sign visibility – make sure any signs on the side of the road are visible to drivers.
  • Clear lines of sight – upcoming road fixtures and features should be easy to see, including guardrails, ditches, culvert headwalls, curves, and side roads.
  • Drainage – If the vegetation on shoulders is high and dense, water can collect on the sides of the road, causing a safety hazard for drivers and eroding the road.
  • Roadside trees – trees growing too close to the road present a significant threat to drivers whose attention wanders. It’s easy to get distracted and drive off the road and into a tree, especially on a curve. Consider removing any tree that seems to attract scrapes and accidents. Dead or damaged trees should also be removed. Overhanging branches should be trimmed.
  • Overgrown brush – Tall, dense weeds and bushes pose sight hazards and other potential issues for drivers.


The best tractor implements for roadside vegetation control

Rotary Cutter

For thick overgrowth, a heavy-duty rotary cutter may be necessary to get the job done. Rotary cutters, also called bush hogs, attach to the back of a tractor using a three-point hitch. They are designed to cut through dense brush.

Flail Mower

Flail mowers are designed differently than traditional rotary mowers. Flail mowers have small blades attached to a rotating drum by hinges. As the shaft rotates, the blades slice through roadside vegetation. If they hit a hard object like a rock, the hinges allow them the blades to fold. This makes flail mowers safer than rotary cutters, which tend to turn hard obstacles into projectiles.

Flail mowers also have the advantage of cutting and re-cutting vegetation until it is left in small pieces on the ground, not the roadway.

Rear or Mid Mounted Boom Mower

To get to those hard to reach areas like over a guardrail,  down an embankment, or even reaching a high tree limb a tractor mounted boom mower may be the best choice.   Tractor mounted boom mowers while more costly can prove to be an indispensible attachment.  Some can reach as far as 25’ to the side of the tractor.  They can accommodate several different cutting heads for various types of vegetation.  The heads tilt up and down and some even rotate which will allow you to trim vertically or horizontally to get the top and sides.


You can knock down small trees growing too close to the road with your tractor and not have a remaining stump. Cutting them down means you have to deal with a stump. Fortunately, your backhoe is pretty useful when it comes to removing stumps. John Deere recommends tackling the problem with four tools: Your tractor, backhoe, a shovel and a chainsaw.

Root grapple

When you have the offending tree cut down and the stump pulled, you’re left with a big pile of debris that needs to be moved off the side of the road. Now what? John Deere demonstrates how to clear debris using a root grapple in this video:

With the right implements, a quality tractor can do everything you need to keep roads free of obstructions and debris.