Did you know that every year, soil erosion causes more than one billion tons of topsoil to be lost? Soil erosion is a huge problem, especially during construction and land development projects. Construction projects often remove natural erosion controls from the ground, which can unintentionally cause soil erosion. Rain or wind can then carry away the top layer of soil, leading to damage to nearby waterways and infrastructure.
But there are ways to prevent soil erosion during construction projects. First, we can limit the amount of earth we move and only disturb natural ground cover when absolutely necessary. If we need to remove the ground cover, we can use erosion control measures such as erosion control blankets, hydroseed and hydro-mulch, and silt fences. These methods can help control erosion and prevent sediment from leaving the construction site and harming nearby waterways.
We’ll examine several erosion control measures that have been proven effective at controlling soil erosion during construction projects and stopping sediment from leaving the site.
Let’s Look at Seven Effective Erosion Control Measures:
1. Planting Vegetation
This method entails planting vegetation with deep roots to ensure the soil is held in place, which is particularly important in areas that are more susceptible to erosion, like hillsides, steep slopes, and along streams and rivers.
The flow of water is impeded by vegetative barriers due to densely concentrated thick stems. They can spread the water runoff to flow through them slowly without erosion. Plants that would serve the purpose of erosion control include deep-rooted native plants like native prairie grasses, wildflowers, and woody perennials.
2. The Application of Mulches
This method involves applying mulch materials to cover bare soil and prevent it from being washed away. Mulching is often used to control erosion in the earliest stages of growing shrubs or seedlings. It can modify soil temperature and conserve moisture to reduce the fluctuation of both factors.
Restoring an ecosystem that has become degraded while protecting existing ones is a good way to ensure the efficiency of soil erosion control. Trees that are correctly planted and maintained can cut down on erosion by as much as 75%.
The removal of forest cover also means an increased risk of earth flow, which is kicked off by the absence of forest canopy as well as a dense network of interwoven roots within the subsoil. Reforestation is another way to stabilize earth flows, gullies, and shallow landslides that are actively eroding.
4. Erosion Control Blankets and Anchoring Devices
Erosion control blankets, geotextiles, mats, and various plastic covers are typically used to control soil erosion in the early stages of growing vegetation or for temporary stabilization during construction projects. These measures are made from natural or synthetic materials designed to hold soil in place and allow vegetation to grow through them. They work by slowing down the flow of water, protecting the soil from wind and rain, and promoting the establishment of vegetation.
Anchoring devices are used to secure erosion control blankets in place. They are normally made of metal or plastic and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including staples, pins, and stakes. Anchoring devices are inserted through the erosion control blanket and into the soil to hold it in place. Anchoring ensures that the blanket stays put during heavy rain or wind and prevents soil erosion from occurring.
5. Using Silt Fencing
A silt fence or super silt fence is used as a temporary barrier to control sediments. Made of geotextile fabric and supported by wooden stakes or metal posts and chainlink fencing, it is one of the most common devices used in construction projects to control soil erosion and prevent sediment from leaving the site. It works by trapping sediment as water flows through it, allowing the water to pass through while retaining the sediment.
If using silt fencing, ensure that the fence is appropriately installed to ensure its effectiveness. It should not be installed across ditches, waterways, or areas with a concentrated flow of water, as silt fencing cannot cope with higher water pressure.
6. The Application of Seeding
When it comes to construction and land development projects, there are two main seeding types permanent and temporary.
Temporary seeding is used to quickly establish vegetation on disturbed soil to reduce erosion during a construction project. Temporary seeding typically involves fast-growing annual grasses. This can be done by spreading seed over the soil surface or by a process called hydroseeding. Hydroseeding is the process of spraying a mixture of seed, mulch, fertilizer, and water onto the soil surface.
Permanent seeding is done to establish long-term vegetation on disturbed soil after construction is complete. Permanent seeding typically uses a mixture of grasses and other native vegetation. The goal of permanent seeding is to establish a diverse plant community that can help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion over the long term.
7. Installing Energy Dissipaters
Energy dissipaters are another common component of erosion control systems, especially in high-velocity areas. These structures are designed to absorb the energy of flowing water. They then disperse it evenly over a wider area, reducing the erosive power of the water. Various types of energy dissipaters can be used depending on the specific site and requirements, including check dams, riprap, gabions, rock chutes, and more.
Proper erosion control measures are essential for any construction or land development project, no matter how big or small. Without these measures in place, the risk of wildlife habitat loss, water pollution, and soil loss can be severe. To learn how you can implement effective erosion control measures such as silt fencing, hydroseeding, and erosion control blankets, call us today at 703-560-4040.