Pair of of live fascines being built one above the other. Each was placed level along a contour in order to develop into terrace. The pair pictured here are part of a series of live fascines that stair-step up the slope from the creek below.


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Construction of live fascines is a fairly labour intensive process, however it requires no heavy machinery, which makes it a good option at remote, or inaccessible sites where major earthmoving is not neccesary. Live fascines are planted horizontally (as in the photo above), typically level, in order to develop into a terrace as they grow, and soil gets deposited behind them. The stair-steps formed by these terraces help slow the movement of water downslope, which reduces its potential to cause erosion. On particularly wet sites live fascines may be pitched at a slight angle in order to direct water down into a pole drain system.

Live fascines are composed of bundles of cuttings bound together and set into a trench lengthwise, staked, and buried.

The bundles are typically 2 to 3 meters long, and 15 to 20 cm in diameter. Willow species are often used, and are arranged in alternating layers to account for the taper of the cuttings. This way both ends of the fascine will remain even, with approximately the same number of butt ends and tips at each. The bundle is bound with twine and laid horizontally in a shallow trench, that (as discussed above) may either run level along a contour, or at a slight pitch.

Next either live stakes, or dead wooden stakes are used to anchor the fascine in place. The trench is then backfilled in until the bottom 2/3 of the fascine is buried, with about 1/3 left exposed on top.


The following spacing guidelines apply to installation of live fascines on slopes:

Slope_ __distance between trenches on slope____Max. slope length

1:1 to 1.5:1__________1 meter___________________5 meters

1.5:1 to 2.5:1________ 2 meters__________________10 meters

2.5:1 to 4:1__________3 meters__________________15 meters

4.5:1 to 5:1__________3.5 meters________________ 20 meters


Continued: Brushlayers

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Live Fascines. From: Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Practices, 10/98, by the Federal Interagency Stream Restoration Working Group (FISRWG).





Live fascine a couple of months after construction