Plants growing in a retaining wall

Why Is Erosion & Sediment Control Important? What You Need to Know

Erosion is a serious issue here at Lake of the Ozarks. When it comes to protecting your property, are you giving erosion the attention it deserves? 

We’ve all seen erosion where major excavations are underway. Or after one of our hard storms batters the shoreline we can see how the runoff wears away the hills. Most homeowners know that erosion and drainage issues can impact any home. That’s even more true on our steep Missouri hills and yards.

Read on for why erosion and sediment control are vital. And what you can do to protect your home and property.

Causes

Rain is the main cause, especially excessive rain over a short space of time. It seems like we often get these kinds of rains here at Lake of the Ozarks. The problem is that this will fragment soil aggregates. Once broken up, water pools under the loose topsoil and will wash it away. 

How much soil will erode depends on a few factors. These include:

  • Soil make-up
  • Distance the water travels
  • Steepness of any sloping areas
  • Deterrents to the runoff

Longer, steeper slopes will take away more soil than shorter, shallower ones. Heavy rain can cause streams to appear, which will wash away any soil it encounters. 

Water will take the path of least resistance, and can build up power and speed over open spaces. Any rocks, soil, or debris in its path will wash away.

Rain water gully washing through a lawn

Erosion in Your Garden or Landscaping

The absence of large gullies doesn’t mean your landscaped areas or garden is safe from erosion. The process can be subtle and you may not immediately spot it. 

Look for things like splashes of mud on your paving stones or the sidewalk. Another telltale sign is exposed roots of your plants and trees. The evidence may not even be on your own property, you might need to look for it on adjacent properties or a little further down the street. 

In the best-case scenario, erosion is just unsightly. Topsoil (full of organic matter) washes away onto areas we don’t want it to. 

In many situations though, erosion is dangerous. Erosion will move contaminants like pesticides into the lake or other water supplies. Continued deterioration can compromise the structural integrity of a building if too much soil washes away.

What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Erosion?

If you notice any signs of erosion, it’s important to call out a professional landscaper. You need to address any issues before they get worse. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to prevent erosion.

Retaining Walls

One of the top prevention methods is to stair-step your slopes with walls. With tiered, flat surfaces you can plant grass, flowers, or other greenery on these levels. The water will then soak in instead of running straight off. 

Retaining walls will become more tricky the higher they need to go, and having a professional build them is highly recommended. Many types of material can be used; I recently saw a home-made retaining wall built with rubber tires trying to support a steep driveway – NOT a good idea (0_o). However, we recommend good quality stone, concrete retaining wall blocks or pavers, or even concrete when aesthetics aren’t as important. A trained landscaper will be able to help you decide what’s best.

Gravel

We have good success using gravel on steep hillsides here at Lake of the Ozarks. A combination of retaining walls and gravel surfacing works extremely well. Plus, the use of attractive decorative gravels and Xeriscape plantings can add both beauty and value to your yard or property.

Plants

There are plants that excel in controlling erosion. It’s based around the idea that once a plant’s root system has established, it will anchor the soil.

Plant 4-inch plants so that the holes you dig are small and won’t disturb as much soil. Use native plants that thrive in unforgiving sloping terrain. Fast-growing shrubs or ground-cover plants like phlox are good choices.

Mulch

If the slope you’re working with is mild, in addition to flowers or groundcover add a thick mulch layer as a stabilizer. 2-3 inches will do nicely. Opt for thick, heavy chunks of bark, not anything too fine. This may not provide a long term solution though, as it may wash away, too, over time. You will just need to watch and see whether you need to implement a more aggressive erosion control.

Bottom Line: Don't Neglect Erosion and Sediment Control

So there you have it. Now you know a little more about erosion and sediment control and have a few possible solutions. 

Remember, you might not notice it at first, but pay closer attention after heavy rain. If left unchecked, erosion can cause damage not only to your yard but your home too.

If you are in need of excavation and landscaping services contact us today at Heartland Landscape Group. We do landscaping Lake of the Ozarks style, with first-class, unsurpassed customer service and workmanship.

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