Erosion Control & Revegetation Planting Guide

Disturbed sites and steep slopes have various soil types and conditions. They are typically distinguished by lower quality soils and a predisposition to runoff and erosion. Examples include landfills, surface mines, road cuts or construction sites.

HABITAT

Various soils resulting from construction leaving exposed clay, sand and rock outcropping without topsoil; generally occupied with upland species.

FERTILITY

Generally low in fertility; therefore, adding topsoil or organic matter (compost) can be very beneficial. Check your soil pH and select species adapted to that pH. Add lime and fertilizer as recommended by soil analysis. Incorporate amendments into the soil in a manner that will leave the soil rough and minimize soil erosion and rapid runoff (e.g., tracking). Fertilizing is not recommended if there is a weed problem.

SEEDING METHOD

Hand seed, broadcast seed, hydroseed or drill seed. For areas with slope less than 3:1, cover the seed 1/8”-1/4” deep by dragging with a spring-tooth harrow or by firmly pressing the seed into the soil using a cultipacker, lawn roller or ATV.

SITE PREPARATION

Eradicate existing vegetation by having a licensed spray technician apply an approved herbicide. Perennial weeds not addressed before establishment will be difficult to remove later. Whenever possible, regrade the site to reduce slope and build diversions which will reduce erosion and minimize seed loss.

For areas with slope greater than 3:1, final tracking should be perpendicular to the slope as the tracks will help reduce erosion and retain seed and moisture.

Mulching with straw, hydromulch or straw/coconut fiber mats is recommended on these sites to protect the seed from drying out or washing away. For areas steeper than 3:1, the use of erosion control blankets or flexible growth medium (e.g., Flexterra®) is recommended. When erosion control blankets are used, be sure to toe them in at the top of the slope.

GROWING SEASON MAINTENANCE

First Growing Season

  • If the ground is not too rough or steep to be feasible, post-planting maintenance will provide improved results. Whenever canopy height (overall vegetation) reaches 18”-24”, use a brush hog mower or string trimmer to trim the meadow to a height of 8”. A lawn mower is not recommended as the mower height will be too low and native seedlings will be killed. Trimming will reduce competition by fast-growing weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients needed by slow-growing perennial natives.
  • If bioengineering materials were used on the site, mowing should be above the new growth of these materials. Trimming should cease by mid-September.
  • Problem weeds should be hand pulled or spot sprayed with an approved herbicide, such as Roundup®, Rodeo®, Garlon®, Garlon® 3A, Stinger® or Milestone®. If you did not plant vines or spiny plants as part of your mix, be vigilant about controlling them. These are more easily pulled when they are young rather than after they have had two to three months of growth. Examples include bindweed, blackberry, multiflora rose, mile-a-minute and Japanese hops. Be equally vigilant about controlling other invasive species, such as autumn olive, Canada thistle and mugwort.

Second Growing Season

  • For sites that are not too rough or steep, prior to new spring growth reaching a height of 2” (e.g., shortly after forsythia or redbud blooms), trim any material standing from the previous year close to the ground (approximately 2”). This will allow the soil to warm more quickly, which will stimulate the emergence and growth of native plants and reduce the likelihood of shrub invasion.
  • If bioengineering materials were used on the site or seed of shrubs/trees were part of the mix, the site should not be trimmed after the establishment year.
  • Problem weeds should be hand pulled or spot sprayed with an approved herbicide, such as Roundup®, Rodeo®, Garlon®, Garlon® 3A, Stinger® or Milestone®. If you did not plant vines or spiny plants as part of your mix, be vigilant about controlling them. These are more easily pulled when they are young rather than after they have had two to three months of growth. Examples include bindweed, blackberry, multiflora rose, mile-a-minute and Japanese hops. Be equally vigilant about controlling other invasive species, such as autumn olive, Canada thistle and mugwort.

Special Circumstances

If you notice a heavy infestation of ragweed or foxtail in the second growing season, trim the meadow to a height of 8”. Trimming should cease by mid-September. However, vegetation allowed to grow without mowing provides more protection for wildlife and aids in erosion control.

Seedlings poke through the straw mat of a recently seeded disturbed site
A steep slope mix consisting primarily of native grasses for erosion control
Germination of a steep slope seed mix during the first growing season for erosion control
A close-up view shows the diversity of species found in many mixes used for erosion control & revegetation.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this review of practices is the result of over 50 years of experience in seed production. Ernst Conservation Seeds has been supplying seeds and consulting in the reseeding of tens of thousands of acres of roadsides, surface-mined lands, conservation and restoration sites in eastern North America, as well as growing and supplying seed and consulting in the planting of hundreds of thousands of acres of CRP/CREP-related areas for erosion control and wildlife habitat. All of these practices are opinion only and our best advice as a result of these experiences. These recommendations do not cover all of the conditions that will be encountered in the field. All of the information is for individual consideration. Ernst Conservation Seeds is not responsible for conditions that will be encountered in individual situations. The use of brand names does not represent our endorsement of a specific product; rather, it represents our experience only and has not necessarily been replicated in peer-reviewed research. The use of chemical pest control agents is subject to manufacturers’ instructions and labeling, as well as federal, state and local regulations.

Erosion Control & Revegetation Seed Mixes

The following mixes are good for controlling erosion and provide food and/or cover for wildlife.

Non-Native Ernst Best Strip Mine & Gas Production Mix

Item #: ERNMX-101 Cost: $2.94/lb
Categories:
Description: Designed for the toughest disturbed sites; tolerates low pH. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Pipeline Mix w/Switchgrass

Item #: ERNMX-102-1 Cost: $3.12/lb
Categories:
Description: Designed for areas where wildlife cover is desired without frequent mowing. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix willl not. ()

Non-Native Good Value Mine Mix

Item #: ERNMX-103 Cost: $2.28/lb
Categories:
Description: Establishes quick cover on sites. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Quick Erosion Control Cover Mix

Item #: ERNMX-104 Cost: $1.40/lb
Categories:
Description: Designed to achieve that quick, green color and fast erosion control with strong, fibrous roots. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Crownvetch Seeding Mix (Naturalized)

Item #: ERNMX-109 Cost: $15.01/lb
Categories:
Description: Designed for areas needing quick erosion control. The annual ryegrass germinates quickly, lasting for one year; by then, the clover is mature enough to aid in erosion control until the crownvetch matures. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing ()

Ernst Native Biomass Mix for Strip Mines & Gas Production Sites

Item #: ERNMX-110 Cost: $9.54/lb
Categories:
Description: A biodiverse mix of warm and cool season grasses with forbs for maximum, sustainable biomass production. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will ()

Ernst Native Habitat for Strip Mines Mix

Item #: ERNMX-111 Cost: $11.88/lb
Categories:
Description: A permanent meadow mix for wildlife cover and pollinator habitat on disturbed sites. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Flat Pea/Perennial Pea Mix (Naturalized)

Item #: ERNMX-112 Cost: $9.59/lb
Categories:
Description: A durable legume cover mix for disturbed sites and steep slopes. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Native Steep Slope Mix w/Annual Ryegrass

Item #: ERNMX-181 Cost: $12.58/lb
Categories:
Description: The native grass and forb species tolerate poor soils typically found on steep slopes in the eastern United States. Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of ()

Native Steep Slope Mix w/Grain Oats

Item #: ERNMX-181-1 Cost: $9.85/lb
Categories:
Description: Use this formula with grain oats as a cover crop in the spring and summer (until September 1st). Mix formulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Native Steep Slope Mix w/Grain Rye

Item #: ERNMX-181-2 Cost: $9.80/lb
Categories:
Description: Use this formula with grain rye as a cover crop (from August 1st-February 15th). Mix formulations are subject to change wthout notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy and function of the mix will not. ()

Eastern West Virginia Steep Slope Mix

Item #: ERNMX-280 Cost: $17.59/lb
Categories: ,
Description: A steep slope mix for eastern WV. This pollinator-friendly mix will stabilize slopes while providing food and cover for wildlife. Mix forumulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding philosophy ()

NC Steep Slope Mix

Item #: ERNMX-310 Cost: $22.49/lb
Categories: ,
Description: A steep slope mix for the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of NC. This pollinator-friendly mix provides food and cover for wildlife. Mix forumulations are subject to change without notice depending on the availability of existing and new products. While the formula may change, the guiding ()

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