Iowa Mowing Laws

The Hardin County Roadside Vegetation Department reminds Iowans to protect roadside habitat for nesting game birds and song birds in the spring and early summer.

Mowing Restrictions

According to Iowa Code 314.17, mowing roadside ditches is restricted until July 15th of each year, to protect young pheasants and other ground-nesting birds until they are ready to fledge. The law, which applies to county secondary roads as well as state primary and interstate highways, also protects habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, including crop-pest predators.


Exceptions for visibility and weed control are built into the law, but non-essential mowing – including cutting for hay – is prohibited. 
Prairie Restoration Sign
Mowing Ditch

Iowa Code 314.17 states: Mowing roadside vegetation on the rights-of-way or medians on any primary highway, interstate highway, or secondary road prior to July 15 is prohibited, except as follows:
  • Within 200 yards of an inhabited dwelling
  • On right-of-way within one mile of the corporate limits of a city
  • To promote native species of vegetation or other long-lived and adaptable vegetation
  • To establish control of damaging insect populations, noxious weeds and invasive plant species
  • For visibility and safety reasons
  • Within rest areas, weigh stations and wayside parks
  • Within 50 feet of a drainage tile or tile intake
  • For access to mailbox or for other accessibility purposes
  • On right-of-way adjacent agricultural demonstration or research plots
No Mowing Ditch
Iowa’s roadsides provide a valuable
refuge for wildlife. The mowing law
serves as a reminder to only mow shoulders during the critical nesting
season and leave the rest of the
roadside for the birds.