The benefits of erosion control

Soil erosion is one of the major environmental issues we have to deal with at the present, especially in the United States. To combat the fast rate of soil deterioration, many experts have proceeded to make use of a variety of ways to manage its occurrence, which is what we generally call “erosion control.”

What is erosion control?

To put it simply, erosion control is the process of managing the impact of water or wind on the soil particles in a particular area. The reason for this is to prevent the soil, specifically the topsoil, from being displaced or degraded of its existent fertile properties.

Since water and air are two of the main factors that cause soil to move, several options to control the displacement focuses on keeping these two elements from interacting with soil for a very long time, such as setting up adequate drainage systems and putting up barriers around the area.  

Because it is not possible to stop the displacement completely as it is, after all, a natural geological process, the main purpose of erosion control is to decrease or limit the rate of its occurrence at a significant amount to maintain the soil’s best properties and recommended quantity at a specific location. Aside from this, it is important to consider that the results of soil management must be effective to allow the use of the land according to its capabilities.

Its importance

"Soil erosion is as old as agriculture. It began when the first heavy rain struck the first furrow turned by a crude implement of tillage in the hands or prehistoric man. It has been going on ever since, wherever man's culture of the earth has bared the soil to rain and wind." - Hugh Hammond Bennett

Did you know that there is an estimated billion tons of topsoil lost every year because of erosion?

How can this affect us as individuals? Will there be an impact on our wildlife and environment? Before we can understand the benefits of erosion control, we need to know the impacts of eroded soil first.

Why should you control soil deposition?

1.     Erosion control can help maintain and improve ecosystems

When nothing is done to prevent soil runoff, there will eventually come a time when the soil will lose its nutrients. This can be extremely damaging to wildlife as it will affect their homes. Of course, we, humans, will also feel the effects of poor soil as this will also put a huge dent in our food production and water supply. 

If we make use of proper techniques to reduce and combat the erosion, we will have cleaner water and vegetation to last future generations.

2.     Erosion control is necessary for various construction projects

What happens during construction phases and why is erosion control necessary in most of them? The reason for this is simple: construction projects affect their immediate areas either on purpose or by accident.

As an example, before one can build a foundation, it may be essential to grade the property first to ensure that the structure will last a long time. Since property grading involves the process of leveling the soil in the area, erosion control is important to ensure that the area is stable. Proper soil management will also help decrease the chances of drainage issues in the land. This is why many states require erosion control plans in their regulations to confirm that they will comply with the proper procedures.

3.     Erosion control is crucial to maintain a safe environment

When land is no longer stable in instances where the soil is too degraded, this can easily result in a disaster. As an example, several areas with no soil management strategies implemented may be prone to a landslide that can cause countless lives to be in danger.

The effects of soil erosion can be severe. Aside from affecting our food and water supply as mentioned earlier, it is also possible that it will cause more pollution and flooding to our environment. Hence, to keep our surroundings safe to live in, controlling the harmful effects of soil deposition should be a priority, not only in commercial but also in residential construction projects.

How do you manage erosion?

There are temporary and long-term methods to control erosion in your area. However, their effectiveness will depend on your particular needs.

What are the environmental benefits of erosion control?

Here are the specific advantages of controlling erosion to our environment:

  • It reduces runoff
  • It maintains soil fertility
  • It protects against pollutants
  • It preserves ecosystems

8 effective methods to control erosion

1.     Silt Fence

A silt fence, also known as an erosion fence, is an effective method for sediment control as it acts as a barrier to keep the soil within an area and also prevents contamination and displacement.

2.     French Drain

Using a drainage system such as a French drain will allow water to runoff to the designated area, keeping the property safe from standing water.

3.     Trees and vegetation

The protecting role of vegetation is the base for many erosion control, soil conservation, and rangeland management measures. (1)

4.     Soil Nails

Soil nails allow erosion control by holding the earth in place. This is often done by drilling steel bars in different lengths and sizes into the soil.

5.     Concrete Blocks

Also known as articulating concrete blocks or ACB, this method manages erosion by placing blocks of the material together to form a retaining structure within a particular area.

6.     Ripraps

Ripraps make use of large stone, boulders, and other big pieces of rocks to form an armor that will keep the unstable soil in place.

7.     Plastic Sheeting

Makes use of specially designed plastic covers, erosion blankets, and similar materials to maintain the soil in a controlled area.

8.     Mulching

A temporary method that uses organic materials to hydrate soil and reduce water runoff.

Why do construction sites cause erosion?

Construction erosion is an actual thing. Since most construction projects make use of different materials, equipment, and techniques, it is common for soil to be displaced as a result of the building process. Just imagine this, if soil can erode with just the presence of wind or rain, what more if there is a team of contractors working on an area while using cars or even excavation trucks?

Since it is known that building projects almost always guarantee soil displacement, it is important for contractors to examine their sites and determine if erosion control is necessary. If it is, then it is crucial to assess which type of method will work to retain the soil while also keeping the safety and stability of the area.

How does soil erosion affect construction sites?

Soil erosion can be a menace to construction sites. Aside from the possibility of accidents to happen to workers, poor quality and unstable soil can easily ruin the drainage system in the area. This means that there is a higher chance of flooding, the appearance and breeding of mosquitos and insects, and pollution to be the unfortunate results of mismanaged soil.

Also, standing water can highly have a long-term effect on the lifespan of a building. This means that the resources that you spent on your project may be wasted as it may likely not last longer than expected.

Things to do before starting a construction project

In order to prevent accidents or damages, it is always best to opt for prevention rather than cure. If you are planning on starting a construction project, here are some tips you can do:

Plan the project with your contractor

For many experts in the industry, they will always say that planning your project by phases will be the best thing you can do for your property. For example, if you need to build a foundation, the first step will usually begin with inspections and site preparation. After that, the focus may be on the footings and foundation. Determining the stages with your contractor will make the entire process less overwhelming and will ensure that you can deal with erosion issues more thoroughly.

If possible, stay away from DIY

You may have heard this before, but we will say it again. DIYing may be tempting, but you should never do it when your safety and property are in the equation. Look for a professional with affordable rates and good reviews and you can surely avoid the headaches you may not be ready to deal with.

Look into possible erosion control methods beforehand

After a site inspection, your contractor may let you know of the problems with the soil in your area. At times, they may recommend methods to control erosion such as riprap. Do not hesitate to do your own research. After all, it is your property, and your suggestion may be an applicable solution for your situation.

We hope that this article has been helpful for your project. If you have any questions or want to schedule an assessment with our team, feel free to get in touch.


  1. Erosion Control | ScienceDirect