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Critical Area Planting

Critical Area PlantingCritical area plantings consist of grass or other vegetation that protects badly eroding areas from soil erosion.

How it helps...

  • It reduces soil erosion
  • A vegetated area improves water quality by reducing the amount of sediment, nutrients, and chemicals running off farmland
  • Protects areas such as dams, terrace back slopes, or gullied areas when vegetation may be difficult to establish
  • Vegetation can be planted to provide small areas of nesting cover for birds and small animals.


  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife


  • Other soil conservation measures may be needed above the critical area to ensure stabilization. Sometimes, other conservation practices will be sufficient to stabilize a badly eroding area.
  • Consider whether the area will serve as nesting cover, and select plantings accordingly. Native grasses and wildflowers add beauty and wildlife.
  • Bare slopes or areas disturbed during construction should be mulched to provide temporary protection.
  • Annual grasses may be needed until permanent vegetation is established. Consider oats or a similar nurse crop in severely eroded areas. (Mow oats before they head out and mow high to avoid clipping the permanent vegetation.)
  • Lime and fertilizer may be needed before planting.
  • Permanently exclude livestock from steep slopes.
  • In areas where grazing will be allowed, do not allow grazing for a year after planting, and prevent overgrazing once permanent cover is established.
  • Delay mowing until July 15 to protect ground-nesting birds.
  • Native grasses may benefit from periodic burning, which stimulates new growth and controls competing plants.