Browse the tabs below to find out how grass cutting is managed in Suffolk and details of what is planned for 2018.
Where we cut the grass
All verges adjacent to the public highway are cut for safety purposes to maintain visibility at junctions, and to ensure that road and pavement widths are not reduced.
In areas where there are no pavements, there may be a need to provide a safe refuge on the highway verge for pedestrians, particularly near busy roads.
On public rights of way, we prioritise paths for inclusion on its cutting programme. Examples of factors increasing a path's priority for cutting include:
- county council promoted routes
- locally important paths
- paths giving access to local services
- paths providing safer links
How often the grass is cut
The following table sets out the number of cuts per year, assuming average growth:
|Location||Standard of grass cutting|
|Urban areas||Full highway verge width - a minimum of 3 cuts per year|
A and B roads: 2 cuts per year of first 1.2 metre width and cutting to maintain visibility at junctions, bends and signs.
Minor roads (C and U): 1 cut per year of first 1.2 metre width and cutting to maintain visibility at junctions, bends and signs.
Often verges are wider than 1.2 metres and vegetation beyond this point will remain largely untouched at these locations.
Additional localised cutting may be undertaken where required for safety reasons (see Additional localised cutting section below)
|Public rights of way||Where a path is on the cutting programme, 2 cuts per year are normally undertaken, with the width dependent on the path’s status. The first cut commences in May and the second in August.|
Additional localised cutting
Additional localised cutting on the road network may take place where:
- grass overhanging a pavement causes people to walk in the road
- it would encourage journeys to school by walking or cycling
- access to village centres by means other than a car would be difficult or dangerous
- there are potential safety hazards caused by long grass, e.g. at junctions
- cuttings/embankments require safety or amenity trimming
- grass cutting in urban areas and on housing estates is carried out for amenity purposes by district or borough councils, and this is more often than required for highway safety.
There are a number of roadside verges which have been designated as roadside nature reserves where essential cutting takes place at appropriate times to protect the various species.
The 2018/19 programme is currently being update.
You can also use the GOV.UK local council finder tool to identify your district by postcode.
Suffolk Highways is responsible for cutting verges in rural areas and has a fleet of 7 tractors working through the cutting season, which will display the Suffolk Highways livery.
District and Borough Councils undertake grass cutting in urban areas on behalf of Suffolk County Council.
Services will be monitored to ensure the overall operation runs smoothly and efficiently.
You can report a grass cutting problem quickly and easily online using our Highways Reporting Tool.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The following FAQ have been compiled to help answer any questions you may have around grass cutting.
Why do you only cut a narrow strip of grass alongside the road in rural areas?
Suffolk Highways’ tractors have a standard width of blade which is 1.2 metres. This is the width of cut that applies all around the country. This is sufficient to give clarity as to what is at the side of the road. It provides slightly more than the standard clearance width of 1 metre for wider vehicles that may partially overhang the verge – the drivers of those vehicles can see their forward passage is clear.
Why don’t you cut additional, parallel 1.2 metre wide strips then?
It isn’t generally necessary for the safe use of the public highway. However, there are locations where additional cutting may be considered necessary to provide adequate visibility from side roads.
Why do you only cut these strips once a year on C roads and unclassified roads?
There is a sizeable cost associated with cutting the grass each year and tough decisions have to be made as to where money is spent for highway maintenance. For every extra pound that might be spent on cutting grass, that would be one pound less that is spent on filling potholes, resurfacing roads, repaving footways or cleaning out roadside gullies (drains).
Is this frequency likely to change?
It is quite unlikely to change as it is felt the council already has the right balance between what it spends its highway maintenance funds on. The council will shortly be consulting on a new ‘Highway Infrastructure Asset Management Plan’ which sets out its specifications, standards and frequency of work. This document will explain in greater detail the entire range of work that is carried out in maintaining Suffolk’s road network and you can comment on its contents from around mid-July onwards via our webpages on this website.
Doesn’t this grass cutting adversely affect the growth of wild flowers and ground-nesting birds?
There is a balance to be had between keeping the highway safe for all road users – there is a duty on the Council on this set out in the Highways Act 1980 – and being sensitive to the local ecology and wildlife. Suffolk does have a large number of roadside nature reserves around the county. Find more details about Suffolk's landscape and wildlife.
Why don’t you cut the grass at a different time of year once the wild flowers have had a chance to grow and the ground-nesting birds to fly away?
If the grass is cut too early there is every likelihood that the grass will then grow too long and become a safety issue, requiring an extra cut and greater expense. If the grass is left to grow too long, it can present a safety issue to road users particularly if the grass is blown across the side of the road making it slippery and difficult to work out where the edge of the road is. Equally, the tractors are working constantly through the spring and summer to keep all of Suffolk’s grass at a safe height everywhere throughout that time.
Why have you not cut the grass at the times your schedule said you would?
Grass cutting is very dependent on the weather. In the same way that you would not cut your lawn whilst it is raining because the wet grass will clog up your mower, long wet grass can clog up the blades in the tractors’ cutting heads. Furthermore, long grass tends to flatten a little when it is wet so it is more difficult for the cutting heads to cut the grass to a consistent height. The summer has seen the wettest June on record so there have been a number of ‘lost days’ resulting in the grass cutting regime falling shortly behind.
Why have you not cut round the bottom of sign posts, pedestrian guard rails, crash barriers and the like?
There are grass cutting operatives using strimming equipment to address this across the county. This strimming work has started later this year than in previous years but is scheduled to be completed at the same time as the tractors will complete their work at the end of the summer.
- Web chat is the quickest and easiest way to contact us; Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.
The chat with us button will appear in the right hand corner when someone is available to talk to.
- You can report problems easily using our Highways Reporting Tool
- Call: 0345 606 6171