Turf lined ditches

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A more expensive ditching option is to form a larger turf lined ditch which can be used to control surface water runoff from larger areas and at steeper gradients. In some situations materials excavated from the ditch can be used to provide ‘as dug’ aggregate for path construction – the material dug from the ditch is used to help build the path's base layer and the vegetation stripped from the path line can be used to line the ditch. This type of construction is sometimes called ‘high-and-dry’.

Once installed and vegetation re-established this type of ditch is resistant to erosion and will carry relatively large volumes of water. Turf lined ditches are generally used in upland paths to reduce the visual impact of any ditches in sensitive landscape. However, where there is vigorous plant growth these ditches can become ineffective where the vegetation is not cut back or if shrubs or trees become established in the channel.

Turf lined ditch


The ditch should be 0.5-1m wide (but may be up to 2m wide in some situations) and at least 200mm deep
Existing vegetation should be stripped back as cut turfs and carefully stored for re-use
Excavate subsoil to form a shallow sided ditch
Line the bottom and side of ditch by replacing turfs, butted tightly together without exposed gaps
If possible, turfs should not be placed directly on unconsolidated gravel/ alluvial material as they are easily washed out and may need to be pinned into place (wooden pegs will biodegrade and are preferable to metal ones)


Annual inspection is necessary to ensure that the ditch is functioning properly
Vegetation clearance may be required if the ditch’s water-holding capacity is reduced by a third or more (minimum of one cut per year)
Remove any tree seedlings/ saplings that become established within the ditch


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