Preventing soil erosion is extremely important. Most people never give thought to their topsoil beyond the gardener who seeks to prepare his plot each spring. But soil erosion is a very real concern, with a Washington university geologist recently stating 1 percent of topsoil is being lost every year. As it takes at least 500 years for one inch of soil to form, the concern becomes more evident—topsoil is not a quickly renewable resource. While agricultural practices are the primary perpetrators of this loss, individual homeowners are also held responsible for doing their part to prevent further soil erosion. Here are three ways you can ensure you are protecting the soil around your home.
Use Landscaping Rock
Many homes have the soil around their home graded or sloped away from it. This is important to the health and wellbeing of your foundation as you don't want water running into it or just sitting there. Some homes have an even steeper terraced slope, which can provide additional runoff as well as privacy from neighbors. However, that slope, no matter how slight, can also lead to soil erosion.
By using landscaping rock, you can slow the rush of both the soil and rain water or snow melt. Rocks should also be placed under any drainage system you may have, namely the rain gutter downspout and gray water outlet from your washing machine. A path of decorative rock pavers or landscaping gravel should be formed, which will provide a mechanism for the water to trickle trough while holding the soil in place.
Create Stepped Terraces
If the soil around your home is flat, you can build an artificial step by using timbers, stones, or concrete. A landscaping contractor can cut into your soil with a technique called cut and fill, creating the artificial steps, and then each step can either be planted with vegetation or covered with decorative rocks. This will create a retaining wall that will slow the erosion of the soil and allow the water time to soak in.
Use Clump Forming Vegetation
Clump forming vegetation is basically low-to-the-ground vegetation that spreads out as it grows. It eventually creates a thick undergrowth, almost a carpet or mat of plants. Their extensive roots help to keep the soil anchored in place, thereby preventing erosion. There are many varieties of ornamental thyme that are useful for this purpose, and when grown in between decorative rocks, such as on pathways, the look can be quite charming as well as useful.