Our Services - Vegetation


Why do we treat weeds?

Weed growth can trap litter and debris. Weed growth in road gullies and channels can slow down and prevent our drainage systems from working. Weeds can damage paved surfaces, displace kerbstones and crack walls making maintenance difficult and costly, as well as many people finding it unsightly. 

When do we spray weeds?

We spray the weeds on the pavements and the edge of the road once a year. We start our weed spraying in the summer and can only carry it out in good weather.

Our weed spraying programme

Alternative Weed Maintenance Options

East Sussex County Council Highways has trialled several alternative maintenance techniques including, Foam Stream, Reactive Maintenance (only dealing with safety issues) and collaboration with District Council Road Sweeping and Strimming.  Along with considering various other options including, Acetic Acid, Flame Guns, Weed Rippers and Manual.

The option of not controlling weeds at all has been considered, but there is considerable evidence around the impact this would have on the highway infrastructure and ESCC’s ability to provide a safe and useable highway network for the public.

The Authority must also meet its statutory duty to maintain a safe and useable highway network. At the present time, there is no alternative solution that can be effectively used to treat weeds over a highway network of over 1,900 miles of road channels and footways.

East Sussex County Council continue to liaise with other County Councils who are all in a similar position to share information and learning on herbicide-alternative weed maintenance options. However, at present a possible effective alternative at an affordable cost has not been identified. For example, weeding by hand or machine is inherently inefficient and would divert hundreds of thousands of pounds away from other areas of need.

Further details on the trials and research undertaken can be found on the East Sussex County Council website under item 48.

Volunteer Streets – Weed Maintenance

Residents and communities do have the option to opt-out of the Council’s weed spraying programme and to undertake manual weed control themselves within street their own streets. Further details can be found on our website here.

What if the weeds are in Eastbourne?

We do not carry out weed control in Eastbourne. This is carried out by Eastbourne Borough Council. You can contact them on: trees@eastbourne.gov.uk

My road has been sprayed but it has not killed the weeds?

The type of spray we use enters the plant through its leaves and breaks down the weeds' cell structure rather than killing it on contact. The spray makes sure that all parts of the plant are destroyed and slows down any regrowth. This means that once the weeds have been sprayed it can take between 10 and 14 days for the herbicide to take effect.

Why was there nothing coming out of the spray jet on the weed control vehicle?

If the vehicle is travelling between sites it will not be spraying until it has reached the next site.

Spraying only takes place where there is a kerb and channel. If there are no weeds present in the kerb and channel no spraying will take place.

Can we spray on windy days?

When spraying on windy days, special low drift spray jets are used and vegetable oil is added to the mix. This increases the droplet size and reduces the spray drift.

Will herbicides harm my baby or dog, cat etc?

We use a herbicide which has been nationally approved as safe for use. It is applied at a ratio of 5% herbicide to 95% water. At this approved rate of application, it is harmless to all mammalian species and birds. It is also approved for use near watercourses.

Speed of spraying vehicles

In rural areas the spraying system on board the vehicle is designed to spray at up to 30mph.

In urban areas the mini tractors have a top speed of 8mph but the average spraying speed is around 4mph. It is impossible for the tractors to exceed 8mph.

How we deal with Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed requires repeated treatments to keep it under control. We have a list of highway land locations which have Japanese Knotweed. Treatments take place between May to June and again in October to November.

Each stem of knotweed needs to be around 1m - 1.5m tall and bearing enough leaves for the herbicide to take effect. The growth is sprayed with a herbicide and left to die off.

How we deal with Common Ragwort

We hand pull common ragwort where it causes a nuisance on the highway, however it is also known to be of good value to wildlife

How we deal with Giant Hogweed

We treat Giant Hogweed on the highway, when and if it occurs.