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How to stop soil erosion at your house

Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:30

Many homeowners are going to extreme lengths to make their houses sustainable and eco-friendly after realizing the benefits green technology can provide. However, what are you supposed to do if the environment you're trying to protect slowly begins to turn on you right before your very eyes?

All of the modern advancements such as radiant heating under the floor boards and carefully positioned solar panels on the roof can potentially go to waste if your house is located on top of a hill or slope. Over time, the weathering elements can slowly eat away at the ground around a house's foundation. Rain and wind might strip the soil right from a yard if preventative measures aren't taken to protect the slopes on which a structure sits.

If you don't ensure the integrity of your foundation, cracks, leaks and other wear-and-tear problems can put a damper on key features of your house that are close to the ground like efficient floor heating. While the damage caused by soil erosion isn't always seen right away, one day you may notice some of your yard is missing or that your whole house is tipped slightly to the side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Instead of seeing all your hard work go to waste, implement an external green solution to harmonize your home with nature. Some methods of stopping soil erosion can be beautifully incorporated into a garden or yard. Don't sit idly by as Mother Nature reshapes your property - do it yourself with these preventative measures.

1. Control the flow of water - One of the biggest causes of soil erosion is the rainfall that soaks into a yard. It's important to not only ensure the water is properly absorbed by the soil when it rains, but that the drainage from the gutters doesn't contribute to the problem. Drain pipes should always be leading away from a foundation and never alongside it. If all the water from your roof gathers around the concrete base of a structure, it aids in deteriorating the dirt as well as potentially penetrating weak spots of the foundation.

The goal of controlling the water around a house is to make it flow away from the building, as far as possible. If it's allowed to pick up speed and force when moving downhill, water will carry away not just your soil, but the nutrients contained within that are vital for the plants in a yard.

You should mark the natural paths water take when it rains so they know the areas that are better positioned for diverting rain flow.

You can either install pipes to carry the water down a hill or do your best to slow the flow by creating a dry creek bed using stones of various sizes. Drainage pipes guarantee nothing shifts from moving water, and the rocks act as a barrier to absorb some of the damaging force flowing water can generate.

2. Build to protect - More permanent methods for controlling a sinking lawn is terracing the borders or building a retaining wall. By creating massive obstructions at the focal point of an eroding yard, you give the dirt a place to gather where the water can stop. All of the earth carried downstream will collect at the retaining walls, halting the loss of soil. Terraces are multiple levels of barriers that help prevent erosion in many locations. They appear to look like giant steps leading up to a house, giving the yard more than one area of halting water and loose earth that also adds a visual appeal.

Terraces and retaining walls give stern resistance to the natural downward forces, buying time for water to soak into the ground around them. These structures can be made of bricks, concrete, stones and even wood. Anything heavy enough to hold its place against the relentless forces of erosion will suffice.

If you're planning on building a similar construct, make sure you discover if there are any water pipes or power lines running underground in the area where you plan on digging. Be prepared for a long building process, because terracing can sometimes take years to complete depending on the size of the grounds.

3. Any plant helps - An easy option for stemming soil corrosion is simply planting anything in the areas where the most dirt is lost. You can add flowers, trees, shrubs and even vines to help alleviate the rushing rain. When you plant greenery, the roots spread out into the dirt, soaking up water that would otherwise move downhill, and they also work to hold sediments in place.

Much like retaining walls, these plants act as natural shields that only get better with age. Rather than pruning all of the plants too much, let them grow a little and spread so that their influence expands as well. Vegetation acts as a buffer for both wind and water and can slow soil erosion in an aesthetic way. Take the opportunity to plant a garden of fruits, vegetables or herbs to solve two problems at once, keeping the yard in place as well as providing homegrown food for the house.

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