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Grassed Waterway

Grassed WaterwayA natural drainageway is graded and shaped to form a smooth, shallow channel and then planted with sod-forming grasses. The drainageway carries runoff water from the field and the grass prevents the water from forming a gulley. The vegetation may also trap some sediment washed from cropland, absorb some chemicals and nutrients in the runoff water, and provide cover for small birds and animals.

How it helps...

  • Grass cover protects drainageway 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


  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife


  • The width and depth of the waterway will depend on the nature of the fields it drains.
  • A grade stabilization structure may be needed at the bottom of the waterway to prevent a gully from forming.
  • Use soil conservation measures on the fields to prevent siltation of the waterway.
  • Significant land reshaping might be required in some situations.
  • Establishing good cover quickly is critical. Tile drainage, mulching or other temporary cover might be needed until grasses are established.
  • Lift equipment out of the ground and shut off spray equipment when crossing the waterway.
  • Do not use the waterway as a roadway.
  • Fertilize if needed and mow periodically, but wait until after July 15 when birds are done nesting.
  • Be careful not to till into the edges of the waterway.
  • Avoid end rows planted along the waterway, because they may allow gullies to form on the waterway edge.