Volunteer Mowing

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) occasionally receives requests from localities, property owners, businesses, and homeowners associations regarding the mowing of grass on highway right of way.  

Additionally, some localities and many homeowners associations require property owners maintain the roadside in front of their properties. This maintenance can include mowing of grass.

If volunteers wish to mow along high-speed, non-limited access roadways, especially in medians, such work should be accomplished under permit.  

A permit allowing private individuals, groups, and local governments needs to include certain items in order to promote the safety of the volunteers involved and that of the traveling public. In such cases, providing volunteers with basic traffic safety instruction is important.  

If other than mowing or picking up litter are involved, consideration should be given to accomplishing such activities under the Comprehensive Roadside Management Program.

Mowing permits should generally not be issued in cases where residents are mowing grass in front of their homes or businesses. Drivers on such facilities expect to encounter pedestrians and activities associated with the maintenance of residences and businesses, reducing or eliminating the utility of any traffic safety instruction.  

Private mowing along such streets has occurred across the state and has historically not constituted a traffic issue.  

In cases where a permit is appropriate, the following apply:

  • The applicant shall complete and sign the LUP-A (Land use permit application).
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old.
  • VDOT staff shall verify the name and address of the applicant prior to issuance of the permit. Name and address can be verified by driver’s license, utility bill or  similar documentation.
  • Permits may be issued to local governments, businesses, informal groups, formal organizations and individuals.
  • Attach the Volunteer Mowing Safety Guidelines and Volunteer Mowing Operation traffic control layout to the permit.
  • The permit fee will be waived for volunteers. A deposit for signs may be required.
  • VDOT may provide safety vests and signs, if available, and shall designate the location of any needed signs as determined by the Residency Maintenance Manager. Any signs provided by VDOT shall be returned upon completion of each mowing event.
  • The volunteer permit holder will place signs in accordance with the Volunteer Mowing Operation instructions.
  • The maximum mowing segment length for a permit is two miles.
  • No lane closures will be allowed and the mower operator and mowing equipment shall not encroach into the travel way while in operation.
  • The time and date for the mowing is to be coordinated with residency staff.

Before Starting Mowing

  • Coordinate time and date for the mowing with the local VDOT residency.
  • View the Adopt-a-Highway safety video (for all participants) at  http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-aah-faqs.asp

  • After putting up work zone signs, pick up litter on the same section of road immediately prior to mowing, in order to prevent debris from being discharged from the mower.
  • Check to ensure that any equipment to be used has all safety features in place and is functioning properly.
  • If driving to the site, carpool to keep roadside parking to a minimum.  Park as far from the road's edge as possible.

The Best Time to Mow

  • Do not mow during peak travel times or when traffic is heavy.
  • Work only in daylight and fair weather.

What to Wear

  • Always wear a yellow-green safety vest so drivers can see you easily. Put on the vest before you leave the car so you are visible the moment you are on the side of the road.
  • In addition to the safety vest, wear brightly colored clothing that protects your arms and legs. Use hard-soled shoes, safety glasses and work or gardening gloves.

During Mowing

  • Always put up the "Mowing Ahead" signs before beginning mowing, in accordance with the appropriate Volunteer Mowing Operation layout below. 
  • Remove the signs after you have finished mowing.
  • Do not mow or pick up litter on median strips unless you have received permission from VDOT's residency to do so.
  • Do not mow or remove signs beyond your section. Stay within the area marked by your safety signs.
  • Do not pick up materials that appear to be hazardous. Contact the State Police if you find such material.
  • Never participate in a mowing operation while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


Detailed Drawings



Page last modified: Jan. 11, 2022