Erosion Control Toolbox: Native Grass Sod


workers treating grass

Native grass sod treatment involves placement of commercially grown sod that is composed of a mixture of drought-tolerant native California grass species.

When to Use This Treatment

  • Wherever immediate 100 percent cover of disturbed soil areas is required
  • Biofiltration Strips and Biofiltration Swales


  • Provides immediate soil cover and control of surface erosion
  • Research data showed that a freshly tilled 2.5:1 (H:V) slope treated with hydroseed yielded 1-2 tons/hectare/year of sediment loss while the native grass sod yielded only 0.6 tons/hectare/year of sediment loss
  • Greatly reduces competition from invasive weed species
  • Low long-term maintenance and establishment costs
  • Controlling erosion at the source is more effective than removing sediment or metals from stormwater runoff downstream
  • Sod strips placed at the toe of the slope remove soil particles from surface runoff before it leaves the project site


  • High initial cost
  • May require supplemental irrigation

Technical Design Tips

  • Amend soil with compost and/or slow-release organic fertilizer
  • Germinate and kill weeds prior to amending soil, if possible
  • Install just prior to the rainy season, if possible
  • Supplemental irrigation may induce dominance of native grasses over others, and increase competition from invasive weeds
  • Recommended grass species mixes vary by ecoregion. The best mixes develop a strong, contiguous root mat, easing harvest and precluding propagation of weedy seed species in the underlying soil
  • Availability must be verified prior to specifying

Consider Using With

Standard Specifications

Estimate Information


  • California Department of Transportation, "Using Reinforced Native Grass Sod for Biostrips, Bioswales, and Sediment Control" (PDF), December 2008


Updated: January 14, 2019