Skip Navigation

Grass Waterways

Solution: Grass Waterways

Grass Waterways:  Shaping a natural drainageway and establishing grass to prevent gullies from forming in fields.

How it WorksPhoto of grass waterway.

A natural drainageway is graded and shaped to form a smooth, shallow channel and then planted to 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.


  • 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.

Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!