Stability analysis of plant-root-reinforced shallow slopes along mountainous road corridors based on numerical modeling

Damtew Tsige, Sanjaya Senadheera, Ayalew Talema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Engineering methods such as soil nails, geosynthetic reinforcement, retaining structures, gabions, and shotcrete are implemented to stabilize road cut slopes along mountainous areas. However, these structures are not environmentally friendly and, particularly in Ethiopia, it is impossible to address all road problems due to financial limitations. Nowadays, soil reinforcement with plant roots is recognized as an environmentally sustainable alternative to improve shallow slope failure along mountainous transportation corridors. The aims of this study was, therefore, to conduct slope stability analysis along a road corridor by incorporating the effect of plant roots. Five plant species were selected for the analysis based on their mechanical characteristics. Namely, Eucalyptus globules (tree), Psidium guajava (shrub), Salix subserrata (shrub), Chrysopogon zizanioides, and Pennisetum macrourum (grasses). The roots’ tensile strength and soil parameters were determined through tensile strength testing and triaxial compression tests, respectively. The factor of safety of the slope was calculated by the PLAXIS-2D software. The study showed that when the slope was reinforced with plant roots, the factor of safety (FOS) improved from 22–34%. The decreasing effect of vegetation on slope stability was observed when soil moisture increased. The sensitivity analysis also indicated that: (1) as the spacing between plants decreased, the effect of vegetation on the slope increased. (2) Slope angle modification with a combination of plant roots had a significant impact on slope stabilization. Of the five-selected plant species, Salix subserrata was the promising plant species for slope stabilization as it exhibited better root mechanical properties among selected plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Numerical modeling
  • Plant species
  • Roots
  • Slope stability


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