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Vegetation in Swales and Ponds

Your stormwater facility was designed to function with specific plants growing. Managing vegetation in your facility requires routine attention throughout the year. Maintaining the vegetation in your stormwater facility helps to keep it looking good and functioning properly.Contact your local jurisdiction for vegetation requirements and before using any herbicide.

Man tripping vegetation in swale.
Routinely maintain vegetation to prevent
costly overhauls.






Where to find it:

Become familiar with all of the vegetation in your facility. Check with your local jurisdiction about specific vegetation and maintenance standards.

When to maintain it: 

Routine mainteance is needed year-round and varies by season. Maintenance is most needed spring through fall. 

What you'll need:

  • glove and PPE
  • mower (push or riding)
  • weed eater
  • pruners
  • rake or blower

Severely overgrown vegetation may require a brush hog and/or excavator.

Tools you'll need: 

Tools for maintaining vegetation in stormwater facilities.


vegetation in swale before maintenance.
The grass in this swale is at least 10" high
and some weeds are present.


vegetation in swale after maintenance.
Grass was mowed to 5" and clippings removed
or blown on side slopes. Weeds were removed.


Keep pond and swale side slopes below 12" and swale bottom 3-6". Clear vegetation around structures in your facility.

People maintaining vegetation in a stormwater pond with a mower and weed eater.

Bare spots

If bare spots exist, install sod (best), spread grass seed (difficult) or hydroseed grass. The end result must be lush grass.

Sod grass installed in swale.


Identify weeds to learn how best to control them. Contact your local jurisdiction before using any herbicides.

Man identifying weeds in a stormwater facility.


Remove trees early. Some may require herbicide to prevent sprouting. Contact your local jurisdiction before using any herbicides.

Man cutting tree with pruners in stormwater pond.

Printable maintenance card

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vegetation rack card COVER.jpg


These guidelines apply to vegetation in the following types of stormwater facilities. Note: vegetation in bioretenation cells may have different standards.



 Detention pond

 Infiltration basin