Shrug off erosion—but don’t let your landscaping go with it
Having a big yard has some major benefits, but dealing with erosion isn’t one of them. It’s a major headache that can clog your drains, diminish your soil quality, and increase flooding on your property (hello, water damage and costly foundation repairs). Unfortunately, it’s also a natural part of living on planet earth. In other words, it may be hard to avoid.
Rainwater, snowmelt, and foot traffic all have a tendency to wear away your landscape—especially if you live on a shoreline. Luckily, you can stop erosion in your yard with a few simple protective measures. These tried and true erosion control methods are a great place to start.
1. Mulch the Area
One of the easiest ways to prevent and repair erosion is by adding a protective layer of mulch or another organic material like compost over vulnerable soil. The problem is this only works on gentle slopes of less than 33%. If your property has a steep hill or you’re trying to combat shoreline erosion, mulch has a tendency to move.
The best way to use mulch is alongside other erosion control methods. For example, it can provide much-needed nutrients to a rain garden or a line of trees that help hold soil in place—just make sure you choose the right kind.
2. Strategically Place Stones
This simple lakefront landscaping idea doesn’t just give your property rustic charm. It’s also a low-maintenance way to stop erosion in your yard. Stone—whether it’s gravel, river rock, or larger stones like riprap—aids in drainage and acts as a protective layer that prevents soil erosion.
For gravel, make sure you choose a porous variety like sandstone that will soak up water. River rocks are a great option to put under downspouts and around your foundation. Along a shoreline, choose a larger variety like riprap to combat waves.
3. Build a Retaining Wall
If you live in a coastal home that kisses the shoreline, you’re probably already familiar with retaining walls. A strong retaining wall designed by a top local retaining wall builder protects waterfront property against strong winds, large waves, flooding, and the type of serious erosion that would gradually shrink their property line.
Even if you don’t have a view of the ocean, you can still use retaining walls to support your landscape and limit soil erosion along slopes. Go for a wall with drainage and water control features to boost its impact.
4. Install Stepped Terraces
In the same way that sand dunes prevent erosion on the shoreline, stepped terraces can help limit hillside erosion in your backyard. This architectural landscape concept involves building a series of retaining walls along a hillside to flatten areas of soil within a slope.
Stepped terraces are best used on steep slopes where mulch, gravel, and other erosion control measures will wash away. If you hire a local landscape designer to install stepped terraces, make sure they install a drainage system behind the retaining wall. The water has to go somewhere, and you don’t want it pooling in your terrace.
5. Plant a Rain Garden
Plant roots help keep soil in place, but a rain garden is specifically crafted to prevent and stop erosion in your yard. The idea is that the garden—which is typically made from deep-rooted native plants—will soak up excess water and limit runoff. Just make sure you plant your rain garden 10 feet from your property to avoid having the water sink into your foundation and potentially flood your home.
To get the most bang for your buck, you can use a rain garden alongside a rainwater collection system to both aid in erosion control and save you money on your water bill. Not sure about native plants? A local landscaping company can help you get started.
6. Add Some Grass
If you have a gentle slope of bare ground, planting grass seed or laying down sod can help prevent soil erosion. Roots hold the top layer of soil in place, and if there’s runoff from a storm, grass slows the speed of it and absorbs some of the excess water.
The best types of grasses to stop erosion in your yard are deep-rooted turf types like tall fescue, but it depends on your climate. Choose a perennial native grass that won’t die off in the winter, so roots stay strong year-round.
7. Install an Erosion Control Blanket
Erosion control blankets help prevent soil erosion by slowing down water as it moves across the surface. They’re typically made from open-weave biodegradable natural materials like jute or coconut fiber.
You can also find synthetic varieties made from plastic netting. These can be a little tricky to effectively install, especially if you have a coastal home and need to protect more than just the top layer of soil. Consider hiring a shoreline landscaping contractor who understands the difficulties of coastal erosion.