Grassed Waterway

Shaping and establishing grass in a natural drainage way to prevent gullies from forming.
How it works""
A natural drainage way is graded and shaped to form a smooth, bowl-shaped channel. This area is seeded to sod-forming grasses. Runoff water that flows down the drainage way flows across the grass rather than tearing away soil and forming a larger gully. An outlet is often installed at the base of the drainage way to stabilize the waterway and prevent a new gully from forming.

How it helps

Grass cover protects the drainage way from gully erosion.
Vegetation may act as a filter, absorbing some of the chemicals and nutrients in runoff water.
Vegetation provides cover for small birds and animals.

Planning ahead

Is major land reshaping needed?
Is there a proper outlet for surface runoff at the bottom of the waterway?
Are soil conservation measures installed to prevent siltation?
Will tile drainage be necessary to establish vegetation in the waterway? *

Tech notes

A waterway should be deep enough and wide enough to carry the runoff from the area draining into it. Check with NRCS for recommended depth and width.
Plant seed at recommended time and rates. Place seed about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Plant across the area or in a figure 8 pattern to reduce
A nurse crop, temporary cover or mulching may be necessary until permanent cover is established.


Lift implements out of the ground and shut off spray equipment when crossing.
Don't use the waterway as a roadway.
Fertilize as needed.
Mow periodically, but wait until July 15 so young birds have a chance to leave the nest. *
Maintain the width of the grass area when tilling surrounding fields.
Avoid planting end rows along the waterway. This prevents a new gully forming on the outside edges of the waterway.

* Check for local recommendations.