Last time I wrote an article on ways you can determine if your property may have a potential problem with erosion. In this article I will discuss what you can do to prevent erosion from taking away some of your land.
Once you have determined that your property may be vulnerable to erosion, then you need to create a plan to stabilize the soil and return the land to a natural state. How you achieve this depends on the state of your land and the location of present erosion.
For example, if you have light sheet erosion that occurs on relatively flat areas of land, you can plant vegetation to hold the soil together. You can also erect barriers such as piles of rocks or boulders.
If you noticed during rainstorms that the water flows through channels on your property, then you will have to break them up to prevent the creation of gullies. If you already have gullies, then you have to use structures and perform some digging to support the soil. Later you will have to plant vegetation.
You may want to consult with the soil conservation service to determine steps you can take to develop a plan. You can visit the group’s website or visit a local service center. The website includes addresses and phone numbers of centers in your region. If you feel uncertain about proceeding without an expert surveying your property, you can request that an agent come to your home and help you create a plan.
Using Plants to Control Erosion
You can plant cover to take care of immediate problems. Covers that prevent erosion include grasses or other kinds of groundcover plants. This flora grows quickly and establishes thick and deep roots that will hold the soil together so it won’t wash away during the next rainstorm. Plant the cover on relatively flat and bare land that doesn’t have deep channels or gullies.
You can consult with the staff of your local nursery to determine what fast growing groundcover grows best in your region. Experts suggest that you plant a mixture of different plants rather than just one kind. This assures that there are back ups that are establishing a root system in case some of the vegetation does not take hold.
It is imperative to include compost or manure and rake them into the soil. You can also use a light fertilizer if you prefer. This action will provide nutrients to the plants so they have the best chance to grow. It is advised that you also include a layer of mulch or brush mats. Use grass clippings, leaves, straw, sawdust, bark chips and straw to make the mulch.
Lay brush mat on hillsides or other places where you think the mulch could be washed away. The brush mat should be laid on top of the seeds to protect them. Lay out long pieces of brush in a vertical pattern and lay more brush pieces horizontally across the vertical pieces. Attach the pieces of brush with small pieces of thin wire or twine or use an organic glue or wood fiber.
Once the groundcover has established and is growing, you should plant trees in the area to further stabilize the land and prevent erosion.
Make certain that you select trees to plant that are native to the region to ensure that they can survive the climate. Do not select trees that require a big hole because digging the hole will disturb the soil. Instead, choose a species of tree that can establish a strong root system from a cutting that grows quickly. Good trees to plant include willow trees, black locust, and elderberries. Space the trees out so that the entire area that is vulnerable will be served by the tree root system.
Wait several seasons so that the property can become stable and then plant more permanent flora.
Using Barriers to Prevent Erosion
Types of barriers can also be used to control erosion. However, you need to know how to handle them so they don’t disturb the land causing more erosion issues. It may be best to rely on professionals in this case.
If you decide to assemble the barriers yourself, make certain you use the right kind. Erosion control can involve creating a physical barrier like vegetation or rock to break the energy of the wind or water that causes erosion. Types of barriers can include dikes, dams, rock lining, sediment traps and storm drains.
Rubble or rock linings are ideal for protecting channels from water flow. The proper rocks to use in the lining include granite or limestone.
If your anti-erosion project includes hillsides, then runoff could wash away seeds and mulch. You can build a shallow trench along the contour of the hillside that runs perpendicular to the flow of the water. The trench will catch the water preventing it from running off the hill and giving it time to be absorbed by the soil. Dig a few short trenches around the side of the hill. Each trench should be 6-inches (15.2 cm) deep and 2 to 3-feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) apart.
Finally, if you have channels on your land, use a hoe to break them up. Fill in the area with compost or manure and rake the area until it is flat and smooth. Once the channel is broken, plant vegetation as described.