Controlling Erosion Along Highways with Vegetation or Other Protective Cover

Report No: 77-R17

Published in 1976

About the report:

Construction operations in highway corridors disturb the natural vegetation and land contours causing potential erosion sites if left denuded. Minimizing erosion on these areas is based on the principles of maximizing water infiltration and reducing water runoff obtainable with rough and stair-step grading to establish vegetative cover quickly. Rough grading is augmented temporarily by mulches until fast growing temporary canopies develop. Establishing and developing desirable vegetative covers depends on grading and soil preparation, soil amendments, mulches, and changing seed mixtures with seasons. Woodfiber @ 750 lbs/A as a tacking agent for straw has provided a persistent mulch for winter seedings that is equal to or better than asphalt @ 300 gal/A. The manipulation of these managements, through plant succession leads to the development of a near maintenance free vegetation that needs little mowing and little or no fertilizer as with crownvetch, flat pea, and sericea. Harsh environments often have partial vegetative covers and multi-step seeding and fertilization is required to develop protective vegetative canopies. Adequate soil amendments applied to a properly prepared seedbed eliminates the need for topsoil which is often of poor quality. Sparsely vegetated grass slopes may be eliminated by overseeding with legumes, phosphorus, lime, and mulches in favorable seeding seasons.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

David L. Wright, D. L. Perry, R.E. Blaser

Last updated: January 28, 2024

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