Many landscapes—even those with mild slopes—can suffer from wind and water erosion. When soil washes away, plants and trees must work harder to find nutrients and oxygen, which further degrades their condition. These tips for erosion control in landscaping include natural and man-made solutions.
Plant Native Trees and Plants
Deep-rooted grasses are appropriate for prairies, but they may not work for slopes in arid climates and those subject to seasonal fires. Native plants are best adapted to hold on to soil. A mix of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers may work better to hold on to the soil, depending on the grade of the slope.
Create a Rain Garden
Rain gardens slow runoff, as plants that absorb a lot of water can keep it from rushing away and taking soil with it. These types of plant thrive in temporary flooding and allow water to filter slowly into the ground, nourishing the surrounding vegetation. Plants with “swamp” in the name, such as swamp milkweed and swamp mallow, add beauty and prevent loss of soil nutrients.
Rain garden construction involves directing water from downspouts toward the rain garden, which should be located away from building foundations. Rain gardens encourage water to slow down and stick around, so placing them too close to foundation walls isn’t a good idea.
Terrace the Landscape
Steep slopes may require terracing, which is a stepped series of retaining walls. Terraced gardens can feature native flowers, shrubs, and grasses. Build terrace walls from stone, wood or concrete block, or even mesh grids that hold seeds and mulch to form a base for plantings.
When you’re creating hardscapes such as paths and driveways on a slope, a geometric ground grid is useful for holding soil, gravel, or sand. Sometimes covered with pavers or grass, ground grids reduce costs for erosion control and provide greater stability for sloped landscape applications.
Some landscapes might benefit from ditches, drains, or channels that encourage water to flow in predetermined paths. French drains can carry water away unseen beneath the ground.
With these tips for erosion control in landscaping, your yard or building grounds will stay beautiful longer, and your landscape plants will retain the soil and nutrients they need to thrive.