With more than 10 million acres of land in roadsides in the United States alone, transportation rights-of-way are a significant, yet often overlooked, resource for pollinator conservation. In landscapes denuded of natural areas by large scale agriculture or urbanization, roadsides are an increasingly important component of regional habitat networks. They frequently support native vegetation, providing refuge for wildlife and connecting fragmented habitat. The wildlife living on roadsides touches communities in every state, province, and county of North America.

roadside native plants for pollinators

3 things you can do to enhance pollinator populations on roadsides!

noun project flower

Include native grasses and wildflowers

Roadsides planted with native grasses and wildflowers support more butterflies and bees than roadsides dominated by non-native plants. In addition to providing roadside pollinator habitat, native plants can contribute significantly to soil stabilization, runoff reduction, and can contribute to reduced maintenance costs.

Lawn Mower designed by Sergi Delgado from The Noun Project

Reduce mowing

Mowing of roadside vegetation beyond the shoulder during the growing season should be reduced, so wildflowers can be allowed to bloom. Consider mowing once a year in the dormant season or mowing once every few years to reduce impact of mowing on pollinators and other wildlife such as songbirds.

noun project spray bottle

Use herbicides sparingly

Blanket herbicide applications can eliminate beneficial wildflowers that pollinators depend upon. Spot-treat noxious weeds and carefully time herbicide applications.


Roadside BMPs

Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators

The best management practices provide concrete steps that can be taken by any roadside management agency to improve roadside vegetation for pollinators. The BMPs cover management of existing habitat, including ways to modify the use of mowing and herbicides to enhance roadsides, and methods to incorporate native plants and pollinator habitat into the design of new roadsides. Click here to download PDF.

DOT/FHWA Website

U.S. Department of Transportation / Federal Highway Administration Environmental Review Toolkit

This site features several FHWA resources and includes a literature review which summarizes the science behind the Best Management Practices, as well as case studies from several states. Click here to visit.

Pollinators and Roadsides publication cover

Roadsides as Habitat for Pollinators: Are Milkweeds Really Weeds?

Although the name milkweed implies that the plants are indeed weeds, they are a diverse group of native wildflowers that are not listed as noxious weeds in any state or at the federal level in the U.S. Please read this fact sheet for even more information. Click here to download PDF.

Pollinators and Roadsides publication cover

Roadsides as Habitat for Pollinators: FAQ

This fact sheet answers some frequently-asked questions regarding roadsides as habitat for pollinators. Click here to download PDF.

FHWA lit review cover

Literature Review: Habitat Enhancement and Best Management Practices in Highway Rights-of-Way

This technical literature review, produced for the Federal Highway Administration with ICF International, includes a thorough treatment on the status of pollinators, causes of decline, potential mitigation efforts, habitat restoration and management for pollinators, and applications to roadsides. Click here to download PDF.

Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers

These best management practices are intended as a starting point for State DOTs looking to make roadsides more pollinator-friendly. This report is organized around the key findings of the literature review and the interview report. Click here to download PDF.

Pollinators and Roadsides publication cover

Pollinators and Roadsides: Managing Roadsides for Bees and Butterflies

A concise overview of the conservation potential of roadside habitat and practical information on how to maximize the value of these areas for pollinators while meeting basic traffic safety requirements. Click here to download PDF.

Project Milkweed

Project Milkweed

Learn more about how milkweeds are essential plants for pollinators and great for roadside planting. Read more …


Thomas Landis cover

A Manager’s Guide to Roadside Revegetation

This guide, by Thomas Landis, focuses on revegetating roadsides with native plants. Click here to download the PDF.


MN DNR Roadsides for Wildlife

Roadsides for Wildlife

Learn more about how roadside restoration and management can benefit wildlife: Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources’ website.


IRVM cover

Integrated Roadside Management

The objective of this publication is to provide basic technical support for new and existing Iowa county roadside programs. The manual is also intended to provide guidance to policymakers and engineers interested in adopting or expanding integrated vegetation management in county right-of-way. From Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management. Click here to download the PDF.

What's the Buzz? brochure cover

What’s the Buzz about Pollinators and Roadsides? Brochure

Click here to download the PDF.


ANP bookcover

Attracting Native Pollinators

Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, is available to purchase from our website. Read more …


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Email us with your questions and comments about pollinator conservation.

Learn About Your Landscape:
Take Action!
Sign the Pledge!

Sign the pledge and take action to help protect pollinators and their essential habitats! Learn more.

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

The Resource Center is where you can find regional information about plant lists, habitat conservation guides, and more. Learn more.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes

Our partners in the native seed industry are offering specially designed, Xerces-approved wildflower seed mixes. Learn more.

Plant Milkweed Seed!

Milkweeds support monarch butterflies, native bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects. Search for sources of milkweed seed now!

Roadside flowers by. From The Noun Project. Flower designed by Adam Zubin. Lawn Mower designed by Sergi Delgado. Spray Bottle designed by Julieta Felix.