As we happily watch the snow start to (slowly) melt, we at Mirage Landscaping are always extremely grateful for much-needed moisture getting into the ground to start the growing season, but we’re also mindful of the soil erosion that inevitably happens with each large melt. No matter how hard each of us property owners try, incidences like the spring melt, extremely hard rainfall, hailstorms, and violent windstorms, will always wash or blow away some of our much-needed topsoil. Soil erosion is becoming a serious problem for not only residential and commercial properties, but also for worldwide agriculture and environmental well-being.
According to the WWF, the Earth has lost about half of its topsoil over the last 150 years because of erosion. Defined as the top layer of soil on your property, topsoil should generally reach a depth of from two to eight inches. It is where nutrients are delivered to your plants, shrubs, and trees, how moisture reaches root systems, and where sunlight is able to penetrate and create warmth. Basically, topsoil is where growth happens, and is absolutely essential to keeping lawns and gardens healthy and thriving.
Problems associated with poor erosion control
Dirt belongs in the ground, not in our drinking water. When topsoil is washed or blown away by rain or wind, we not only lose valuable minerals, nutrients, and protection for our plants, we are also inadvertently poisoning our drinking water. Fertilizers and pesticides end up in the sewer system, to then be swept away to our water treatments plants. Properly cleaning water that has been polluted takes a lot more time, effort, and money, and, of course, the soil can never be brought back to where it originated.
Runoff with a lot of sediment in it raises water levels, and therefore increases the chance of a flood. Sediment also increases water temperatures, making it hard for beneficial organisms to survive. It clouds and darkens water, making it more difficult for aquatic animals to find food, clogs fish gills and smothers fish eggs.
Not to mention, soil in water makes recreational water activities a lot more challenging and a lot less fun.
The health of the soil of the clients we serve at Mirage Landscaping is of utmost importance to us. With a little innovation and imagination, however, there are some great methods for erosion control.
Erosion control methods for your yard
Retaining walls are not only attractive and useful, they are very effective for erosion control. What they do is “level out” properties by increasing the area of flat space while also not interfering with needed drainage away from your home. They are attractive and good for the environment, because instead of moisture running quickly off sloped surfaces, retaining walls create a receptacle for water to collect and settle. They are built to direct moisture away from foundations and straight towards where it is needed the most ― the root systems of your shrubs, trees, and perennials.
Retaining walls also enhance your look of your yard, help save on water, and increase the variety of shrubs, trees, and perennials your property can support.
Pathways and patios should be graded to as much as an inch above grade at the closest point to your home to help control erosion. Pavers should be placed on at least four inches of gravel topped with two inches of sand, with the gravel providing drainage and the sand providing a platform and stability.
Permeable hardscapes are another option for erosion control. Solid slabs of concrete are obviously not the best choice, as all they do is force moisture into sewer systems without consideration of what might be carried with it. Permeable surfaces allow water to penetrate into the ground below, with options being pervious concrete, porous asphalt, pea gravel, interlocking pavers, and river rock.
Grass and shrubs are also very effective at erosion control, but must be watched carefully. A lawn on a steep slope will still lose topsoil, and shrubs can only fight against downpours as much as their leaves will allow. We always recommend mulch for areas that can’t have a retaining wall installed.
Think of mulch as a top dressing for your property. It acts like a blanket, keeping topsoil intact and protecting your plants from harsh cold, intense winds, and piercing sun. You can also save on water with mulch. It provides shade for your soil, which keeps moisture from evaporating too quickly on sunny or windy days. When watering (or when raining), water drips down through the mulch to your soil, delivering moisture slowly and evenly to prevent runoff … saving your water and your topsoil.
Topsoil can be added … and so much more
If you think your property has an erosion problem and your topsoil is at a critically low level, contact us at Mirage. We can offer solutions such as regrading your property, adding retaining walls, applying mulch, and, of course, adding in more topsoil. We are a full-service, year-round lawn-care maintenance, landscape construction, and snow removal service company for our commercial and residential clients.
We live and love to work in the southeast area of Calgary, and are very proud of what we do. View our portfolio to see our work, and contact us for a free quote to make your property match your dreams.