When it comes to problem landscape solution ideas, there are several effective ways to prevent soil from washing away on sloped landscapes. If minor erosion is a problem for you, try one or more of the following techniques, all of which employ the use of “erosion-control plants:”
1.) Landscaping Slope – For places like slopes where erosion is more severe – use soil erosion fabric; also known as retaining cloth. Or, any porous material from burlap to mesh; like that used on highway banks. If you have difficulty finding a source, ask a golf course greens keeper. Avoid the use of plastic which cuts down on water penetration into the soil. Before laying cloth in place, prepare the soil by soaking it well. Remove any unwanted growth, and loosen and smooth the soil. Lay cloth, and stake in place. Use scissors to cut holes for plants; use a trowel to plant.
2.) Hillside - A riprap can be made to cover either
the steepest part of a hillside or the whole area, using handpicked
rocks, stones, or concrete rubble. The rock barrier will act like
a small retaining wall and slow water runoff to control erosion.
Simply dig troughs across the slope. Place large rocks so they are
half buried; scatter smaller stones and/or concrete rubble to fill
in gaps. Pack soil and plants with roots that will wind through,
around, and under the rocks to further hold the soil in place.
3.) Slight to medium slopes – Mini baffles made from pieces of plastic edging cut in foot lengths, or larger baffles using landscape timbers, work best on slight to medium slopes where erosion is a problem. Partly bury the baffle across the hillside to slow water drain off. Use a trowel to place mini baffles in place by hand. Shape each in a half circle to act as a wall, with a plant centered in the middle on the uphill side. For large baffles, dig a shallow ditch with a spade. Put the soil removed on the uphill side. Position the landscape timber in place before planting.
4.) Flat land to minor slopes – Landscape mulch works like a sponge and is best as a landscape solution for minor slopes. It will also keep down weeds; if organic, it will add humus. Pour the mulch in position before or after planting. Spread smoothly and evenly over the surface and around plants, at least 4 to 5-inches thick. Organic mulch will need to be replaced often. On slightly steeper slopes, use mulch with baffles.
Good “soil erosion solution” plants with strong, wide-spreading root systems that can be planted on hillsides and slopes to help control erosion include:
1.) Periwinkle – dark shiny evergreen leaves w/lavender flowers. Sunny locations in zones 4-7; shade in all zones.
2.) Alpine strawberries – by starting from seed indoors, enjoy both flowers and berries the very first year. Spread by crowns instead of runners to create a lovely, edible carpet. Will stand light shade; appropriate for zones 3-10 in full sun.
3.) Rockspray cotoneaster – grows less than 2-feet tall with horizontal branches that grow in a pattern resembling fish bones. A sun loving plant that bears bright red fruit; leaves turn red in the fall.
4.) Japanese spurge – 8 to 10-inch perennials; thrives best in light shade, moist soil. Leaves turn yellow in full sun. Avoid ‘silver-edge’ variety, which is less vigorous than others.
5.) Virginia creeper - climbs by clinging on aerial rootlets, creating a lacy “curtain.” Five-finger, whorled leaves turn dark red in fall, and blue berries are formed. Drops foliage in winter. Rapid grower, sun or light shade; zones 4 – 9.
Also try Alleghany, juniper, rock rose, honeysuckle, leucothoe, lantana, cranberry, and bearberry. And remember, when using plants on slopes, leaving water-catching lips on the downhill side of the plant is one of the best ways to conserve water, and enhance soil erosion control efforts.
For help in implementing these landscape solution ideas for soil erosion control, or for ideas on landscaping design or landscape maintenance, let HandyAmerican.com put you in touch with qualified landscaping professionals in your area. Posting your project online is fast and easy. And best of all, FREE – with absolutely no obligation whatsoever.
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