Restoring disturbed soil

Asked March 8, 2018, 2:10 AM EST

Hi there, I’m designing a permaculture landscape and in the process needed to dig about 1,400 feet of trenches on a couple of acres to install water lines. I’m wondering if you can give me links to great resources on how to restore these disturbed areas to prevent erosion and invasive from establishing. There is approximately 45,000 feet of soil that has been disturbed from trenching. The property we purchased also has about an additional 2 acres with previously disturbed soil that has been taken over by cheatgrass, diffuse and spotted knapwed. I would like some information on how to restore these areas without using any toxic herbicides. Note: I have a tractor loader backhoe at my disposal if that helps. I look forward to your reply. Thanks in advance!

Deschutes County Oregon sustainable gardening and landscaping irrigation and water management soil permaculture

2 Responses

Hello,

In terms of a great resource for restoration in Central Oregon, I suggest you contact Wintercreek Restoration:
http://www.wintercreeknative.com/

Refer to the Deschutes County weeds site for cheatgrass and knapweed control: https://www.deschutes.org/road/page/best-management-practices-selected-weed-species Here is also an OSU Extension site on knapweed: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/umatilla/cereals/weeds/diffuse

Other than chemical control, you can pull the cheatgrass and knapweed by hand (being sure to get as much of the roots as possible) and remove the vegetation from the field. With either of these weed species you want to avoid them going to seed. Mowing can be used on cheatgrass, but is most effective when the grass flowers but before it goes to seed. This timing is critical. Mowing is not very effective for knapweed, as knapweed can re-sprout in the same year when mowed.

If using tillage, it must be repeated several times to try and exhaust the seed bank (cheatgrass) and root reserves (knapweed).

Establishing a competitive grass species is recommended to maintain control from these invasive weeds. Crested wheatgrass has been shown to be one of the most effective grasses as it established quickly. However, crested wheatgrass is not native. A native species worth trying is bluebunch wheatgrass. Wintercreek could provide more information on recommended grasses for restoration sites.

Best of luck,

Thanks Clare! Great info. I think I'll try hand pulling and burning (during the wet season only of course) as the Cheatgrass tries to establish in these areas, and follow up with planting some natives already well established on site, as well as the native BlueBunch Wheatgrass as you suggested. I think hand pulling before the Cheatgrass gets established will not be too difficult. Basically, I'll be the grazer for a couple of years I may also try applying mulch to some areas, and slowly remove it in various places and manage to allow natives to establish. I think the difficult part is getting the land back to the point where the areas "between" the native plants becomes mature again with funguses, ground-covers, and mosses and lichens that successfully prevent cheatgrass seeds from germinating.