Slope Revegetation: A Checklist of Factors to Consider

  1. Survey site for physical characteristics:
    1. slope gradient and geometry
    2. geology and stratigraphy
    3. hydrology
    4. soils
    5. erosion and slope instability
    6. wave attack
    7. off-site influences
  2. Survey adjoining, undisturbed areas as reference of species occurring:
    1. strata (i.e., herbaceous, shrub, tree)
    2. density (plant per foot, acre, etc.)
    3. quality of existing plants for erosion control and slope stabilization
    4. age of plant community
    5. successional stage
  3. Develop specification:
    1. will structural element be necessary?
    2. suitable species; micro-site considerations
    3. numbers required of each species
    4. sizes available from commercial sources (native species, not cultivars)
    5. stock type (cuttings, bare root, etc.)
    6. contract growing required (may required a two-year lead time)
  4. Determine costs associated with initial planting:
    1. presence of exotic invasive plants
    2. site preparation
    3. cost of plants
    4. transportation
    5. costs of planting (fertilization, etc.)
    6. protection from animal damage (enclosures, repellants, etc.)
    7. irrigation
  5. Estimate costs associated with establishment:
    1. maintenance and monitoring
    2. replanting as necessary (90% success after 3 years)
  6. Estimate time to full restoration (considerably longer than establishment period, 10-15 years)
  7. Establish total costs of project.

Note: It should be clearly understood that unusually harsh climatic conditions prior to full development of a vegetative root matrix could result in failure or partial failure of such a slope stabilization system. Landscape contractors should have an understanding of the processes affecting slopes, techniques to be employed to ensure success, and the potential hazards of working on steep slopes in vulnerable areas.