How Do I Determine Slope?

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How Do I Determine Slope?

Slope is a very important factor to consider before a vegetative buffer is implemented. The maximum acceptable slope for using vegetation to control erosion is 1.5 H to 1.0 V. This is a 33-degree angle. If your slope is steeper than this, you probably will have to consider a structural erosion control technique. These would include gabion baskets, retaining walls, terraces, drains, etc. These methods are not covered in the Green Thumbs for Blue Water program. Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or Soil and Water Conservation District for more information.

You can create a simple tool out of household materials to help you determine your slope.

  • Protractor
  • String
  • Weight (heavy washer or something similar)
  • Yard or meter stick

Tie the weight to one end of the string. Use the other end of the string to secure the protractor to the yardstick as the diagram indicates.

Determining slope

Source: Myers, Rian D. 1993. Slope Stabilization and Erosion Control Using Vegetation: A Manual of Practice for Coastal Property Owners. Shorelands and Coastal Zone Management Program, Washington Department of Ecology. Olympia. Publication 93-30.

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Updated: March 8, 2010