Nov. 12, 2021
Topsoil plays an important role in our lives. We rely on topsoil to grow our food. Soil also filters water, removes impurities and prevents distillates from entering our groundwater.
We lose 24 billion tons of loose soil each year due to factors such as climate change, poor land management and over-tillage.
This continued erosion doesn't just affect farmers. When soil is lost, it can eventually become bald patches on lawns or lead to clogged swimming pool drains. More pests in the garden may also indicate that erosion is occurring.
While a lot of topsoil erosion occurs on flat ground, when located on hills, soil erosion can accelerate rapidly. The effects of this on the ecosystem can be devastating.
Soil erosion naturally occurs when topsoil is exposed to elements such as rain and wind. Heavy rainfall that causes runoff leads to topsoil degradation. Flowing mud can also clog important channels. When pulled down by gravity, topsoil erosion is accelerated and the effects become worse.
For properties located on slopes or hills, erosion problems affect more than just the immediate area. Eventually, the problem may extend to other nearby properties.
In residential areas, erosion often results in silt buildup at the bottom of the driveway.
Loose soil can block creeks and streams, which can harm local marine life and cause the death of future generations.
Soil runoff during heavy rainfall causes the soil to lose vital nutrients, which can be harmful to lawn and garden life.
Clogged waterways can flood residential driveways, streets and swimming pools.
All exposed soils contribute to lower local air quality.
Soil erosion may involve degradation (loss of soil quality) and loss of soil particles. Rainy season runoff is not the only time we need to worry about erosion. Winds at any time of the year can cause soil particles to pour down slopes. For sunny hills, evaporation can add mass and deteriorate soil quality. The following tips can help slow the erosion of topsoil.
Retaining walls are an aesthetically pleasing way to prevent soil runoff. Walls allow you to create sloped area areas that give your property a terraced appearance. This will create a series of mini garden areas that will add depth to your sloping property. You can convert offset plots into beds of flowers or plants while also stopping the erosion of the soil.
When heavy rains cause excessive runoff, sandbags can block water flow. Arrange your bags in a stepped pattern, overlapping and staggering them between rows. Fill the bags halfway with sand, although local soil will also work.
Heavy sandbags are a temporary solution because you are only diverting water flow. The bags will also deteriorate after a few months. However, for sloping properties in hilly areas, sandbags may be an excellent additional resource for fighting soil erosion.
Perennial fruit trees, herbaceous plants, and berry bushes are suitable for the soil. The same is true for trees and bushes. The roots of the latter can penetrate deep into the soil, while their leafy canopies can break up heavy rainfall and provide sufficient protection for the soil below. Other ideas include grasses, groundcovers, broadleaf species and legumes.
As long as the plants you use are appropriate for your growing zone, the nutrient growth will give the soil the weight it needs to stay firmly in place. These crops also add nitrogen to the topsoil, which helps improve soil quality and health.
These cover crops have other benefits as well. Once germinated, cover vegetation can protect your property from wind and water erosion. They allow water to flow through their root systems and increase your water infiltration levels.
Once fully grown, your planting will provide a lush hillside backdrop that's effortless enough to withstand rain.
Using natural and native materials for your slopes also gives you a range of smaller areas where you can be creative. Decks can be created with logs, stakes, and brushes, or any other sustainable material. Terraces prevent runoff from flowing directly downward, while smaller areas can be used as smaller gardens for cover crops designed to enrich the soil while retaining it.
If your property has a layer of rock beneath the soil that cannot support vegetation, there are steps you can take to change this. It may take a few seasons, but establishing a thin layer of topsoil can support vegetation on the slope. Geotextiles and erosion control mats can help.
Erosion control techniques force the soil to remain on steep slopes. Geotextiles and erosion control mats are made of biodegradable synthetic materials that protect your soil from erosion. The mats are specifically designed to allow seeds to breathe and take root. Over time, erosion control geotextiles and mats break down, increasing the nutrient content of your soil.
These methods will stop erosion from your hillside. All of these methods are safe for your property and wildlife. They will provide you with much needed stability while reducing the chances of erosion.