Most homeowners at one time or another will be faced with a challenge common to just about everyone who cares about their property: erosion. Nature can be a relentless force, and while it can be challenging to beat back the forces of erosion seeking to work against your carefully manicured property, there are steps you can take not only to protect your property but also to protect your soil and manage your property’s growth effectively and efficiently. Not only will soil stay where you want it, but you’ll use less water; the garden will look clean and crisp, and plants will flourish.
When seeking to manage erosion, one of the first things homeowners need to identify is where it may occur. Examine slopes, hillsides, path of water after a rainfall, and places you already actively water. Common signs of erosion include exposed roots, puddles, or mud splashed up on surfaces. Should any of these signs be displaying themselves, keep in mind a few key steps from GreenPro that you can take to shut erosion down before it encroaches any further on your property.
There are two basic principles to keep in mind when battling erosion:
- Stabilize soil
- Target where and how you water
Homeowners seeking to stabilize their soil first should consider working with nature; sometimes the most natural choice is the best one! If your yard is steep and hilly, you may need to consider using some terracing to help brace and reinforce the soil. However, some of the best solutions are often less labor-intensive. Consider mulching exposed soil surfaces, overseeding your lawn, and strategically placing plants. Growing ground covers and other perennials will hold soil in place naturally. If you’re working with clay soils, adding a rain garden is not only helpful but beautiful.
Shredded bark, wood chips, rock, gravel, leaves, and even pine needles make great mulch. Look for locally sourced materials whenever possible. However, you may want to avoid cocoa bean hulls if you’re a dog owner and don’t use pine needles or gravel in food gardens. Use leaves, straw, or coarse compost around kitchen garden plants instead. Cover bare patches of soil, hillsides, and spaces between plants with 1 to 2 inches of mulch. This will protect soil from overhead watering and rain, keeping it in place. It also minimizes evaporation and feeds soil simultaneously.
Consider adding extra seed to cover and fill in bare patches in your lawn. Overseeding lawns increase root density; these thicker roots will help hold soil and water in place down the line. This makes for a happier, healthier climate for grasses to grow and keeps the soil at the root zone.
Creeping thyme, lawn daisies, sweet woodruff, poppies, and even succulents form a fabulous ground cover that can also help stabilize your property. The roots of larger perennial plants do the job too. Start with the plants you love and go from there. Plant roots do a particularly wonderful job of reducing erosion.
Rain Gardens & Plant Catchments
Sometimes the best solution is to catch and control water when it’s moving downhill or by creating a garden in low points. The problem of erosion presents an opportunity for a garden you may not have anticipated. A well-positioned rain garden can cut down on erosion and the possibility of pollutants reaching neighboring tributaries by over 30%. To plant a rain garden, select water-loving plants adapted to your region and climate, and add stones and other features to direct the water.
Again, oftentimes soil stabilization isn’t enough. Homeowners need to remember the other principle when it comes to treating your lawn: targeting where and how you care for her—including how you water your lawn!
Target Where & How You Water
Where and how you water is an additional, simple fix to reducing erosion. To begin with you, you’ll need to inspect and evaluate what locations need water and then target only these areas. Not every area needs the same amount of water, or even to be watered as frequently. Find the sprinkler that will allow you to customize the spray to water only when and where you need it.
Where to Water
When you’re planting and arranging your garden, remember that specific plants have specific requirements. Water-wise plants (plants that typically like well-draining soil that dries out between waterings) should be grouped, as should water-loving plants, etc. This makes it easy to give each part of your yard the right amount of water and keep the plants alive. It also allows you to focus attention on the areas of the yard that need water, letting the spaces in between go dry. This work will help you reduce erosion as well as be more efficient with your water usage and allocation.
When to Water
In general, it’s best to water in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., allowing the wet foliage to dry through the day. However, watering times will also depend on how you use your outdoor space when you want to play on the lawn and average daily temperatures. If you’re in the mountains or high desert where morning temperatures can drop to near freezing even in summer months, wait until later in the morning before watering to reduce the chance of plant stress.
How to Water
Landscape plants, perennials, grasses, and even many annuals need a good, deep watering every few days rather than a light watering every day. Watering deeply encourages root growth which further helps stabilize the soil. Water plants 2 to 3 times a week in warmer months, adjusting the frequency based on weather.
Hopefully, these tips help you think about how to work with your lawn to beat back the forces of erosion! Need more tips? Have a yard that you feel needs some extra support? Call GreenPro today; let’s back erosion together.