Roadsides are an integral part of the highway system. WisDOT manages over one hundred fifty thousand acres of land in Wisconsin roadsides. Active management is required in most scenarios to create a safe roadside. This includes roadside and landscape management programs and activities.

Roadsides are areas between the outside edges of the shoulders and the right of way boundaries exclusive of areas occupied by other highway facilities. On divided highways, the median strips between in the inside shoulders are included. The roadside is divided in to two main zones. Design and management objectives vary within the zone that is being addressed. 

  • The "clear zone" - zone one
    • An area of grass, small trees and shrubs off the shoulder to facilitate highway operations.
    • Allows visibility of signs and traffic at interchanges and curves. 
    • Large trees and encroachments are removed for safety and herbicides are used selectively for vegetation control around beam guard and sometimes for invasive species. 
  • The "natural roadside" - zone two
    • This is any area outside the “clear zone.”
    • The natural roadside allows for vegetation to establish based on natural selection, typically this includes native or low maintenance vegetation. 

​Roadside management

This includes management of roadside programs and activities that are not specific to vegetation management such as the Adopt-A-Highway program, deer carcass removal management, encroachments, roadside memorials, roadside sponsorship program, and hazardous mailboxes.

Landscape management

This includes management of programs and activities which involve the skilled analysis and development of specific vegetation and related environmental conditions. Transportation landscaping has four main parts as follows.

  • Design Principles - Applying the principles of landscape architecture to the aesthetic design of highways and highway structures
  • Project Development - Developing landscape plans
  • Construction - Supervising landscape planting operations
  • Maintenance - Conducting roadside maintenance/management operations

State Landscape Architects contact information:

WisDOT employs landscape architects to develop policy and provide guidance and technical leadership to regional personal and consultants in the appropriate and beneficial use of landscape architecture in areas of corridor aesthetic and vegetation management.

Christa Schaefer, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C
State Transportation Landscape Architect
Division of Transportation System Development
4822 Madison Yards Way, 5th floor South tower
Madison, WI 53705             
(608) 266-3943