Swale Maintenance

lawnmower border

In general, swales and ditches are the responsibility of the owner of the property upon which they are located. Driveways and their associated aprons, culverts, and/or bridges that cross the roadside drainage system are also property owner responsibilities. You can find more information on Driveway Culvert Maintenance here.

who is responsible for what

Property owners are responsible for routine swale maintenance such as:

  • Grass mowing/trimming
  • Minor erosion issues
  • Grass/vegetation seeding/planting
  • Trash/debris removal
  • Minor sediment build-up
  • Removal of weeds

Owners should ensure that swales and culverts are kept free of grass clippings, tree trimmings, leaves, or other obstructions that may block the flow of water, including:

  • Fences (where approved)
  • Trees, shrubs and other landscaping features within the right of way (where allowed)
  • Trash/recycling bins
  • Pet waste
  • Toys and recreational equipment (i.e.: bikes, balls, plastic pails, etc)

Helpful tips:

Planted Swale Garden

  • Do not rake, blow, or dump grass clippings or leaves into the swale. This can clog driveway culverts and other stormwater conveyances.
  • Consider planting your swale with native grass and sedge varieties (see image above). They have longer roots to control erosion and some have a short growth height that will reduce maintenance. Contact the Stormwater Division for more information on swale plantings.
  • Store “floatable” items like lawn decorations, toys, outdoor furniture, and recreation equipment indoors or secure so they won’t end up in the swale.

All swales must meet certain specifications based on natural drainage in the area; please contact the Stormwater Division at 919-913-2999 or stormwater@townofcarrboro.org for technical advice before you make any changes to swales or culverts to ensure they meet all requirements and regulations.

Information or assistance may be available from Stormwater Division staff about the cause of drainage problems and possible solutions; however, staff cannot recommend a particular contractor or undertake any work on private property.

Corrections to grade or excessive erosion or sedimentation issues in the Town maintained right of way is the responsibility of Public Works. If you need to request service for the roadway swale please fill out our online Service Request Form