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4 Ways to Prevent Lawn Erosion

Bobbi PetersonAccording to Daniel Defoe, "Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed." However, there's at least one other experience we have in common: soil erosion.

The bane of gardeners and lawn enthusiasts alike, erosion is caused when rain, wind, or snowmelt wears away the soil from a slope. This uncovers more vulnerable soil, exposes tree roots, and forms swampy patches. What are those of us with green thumbs supposed to do? How can you protect your lawn and keep your hard work from going to waste? Read on for four ways to combat erosion in your yard.

1. Construct Some Edging

That puddling, swampy effect that signals erosion is due to over-saturated soil. Basically, the other areas of your lawn can't hold any more water, causing it to run and pool in lower-lying areas and taking soil with it. Fortunately, there are several ways to mitigate this

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The first option is to build a retaining wall around plant beds. Installing these walls a few inches deep in the soil physically prevents the water from migrating to other areas. Additionally, they'll keep the water closer to the bed, letting your plants gradually use it up.

The second option is to terrace the troublesome slope. To do this, you'll level off sections in the hill and create an incline that resembles stairs. The flat parts will allow the water to absorb into the soil rather than flowing away. You should put plants in those areas to increase the absorption.

2. Hydroseeding

If you're not too keen on the construction needed for edging and terracing, hydroseeding may just be the option for you. Hydroseeding works by spraying troublesome areas with a mixture of moisture retention polymers, fertilizer, biostimulants, and other ingredients. This slurry helps control erosion and establishes plant life.

Because the slurry contains moisture retention agents, it will help absorb excess water for some time after it's applied. This water will then nourish the seeds contained within the slurry, promoting rapid growth. While most plants offer protection against erosion, some work better than others, so be sure to choose the best variety for you.

3. Plants for Erosion Control

If you'd prefer a more organic method, using small or large plants to hold soil in place is highly effective. Cover crops — plants that enrich the soil when tilled in — are great options. This category covers rye, clover, vetch, and other such plants. These types have net-like roots, which hold soil and prevent weeds.

You can also use ground cover plants for erosion control. The more ornamental varieties include ivy, periwinkle, creeping juniper, and weeping forsythia. If you prefer plain old grass, try timothy grass, foxtail, or smooth brome.

For extra effectiveness, you may want to sow your chosen ground cover using hydroseeding, to ensure the seeds aren't washed away in the next rain.

4. Rain Gardens

A rain garden requires a good bit of planning and hard work, but it's yet another natural way to take alleviate erosion. You'll want to place the garden in a low-lying area to maximize absorption.

Start by digging your garden 4 to 8 inches deep and enrich the soil with compost. At this point, you can add in some edging for extra retention. Populate your garden, preferably with deep-rooted native species, and cover with mulch. It's recommended that you use large wood chips, which absorb more water and prevent weeds. With the proper maintenance, your rain garden will provide natural drainage for years to come.

Follow these four tips, and erosion will become a thing of the past in your garden. Though you’ll still have to deal with taxes, you’ll soon see the benefit erosion control brings to your life.

Terraced garden slope
Photo by Adobe Stock/victor217