Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

By Roger Boddaert
Special to the Village News 

Erosion control for home-garden-ranch


Last updated 1/23/2019 at 6:17pm

The recent much needed rains came to a parched earth. I haven’t seen such an early rainy season for many a year, and it is greatly appreciated by the flora and fauna.

It will take decades and more to regenerate the below-ground aquifers and continued snowpack in the Sierras to help the region out in the long run.

The past fire season brought havoc to areas throughout the state, from Bonsall to Los Angeles, Ventura and up to Paradise in northern California.

Erosion control is of great concern for those areas and also for local property which should be inspected if necessary.

When the rain comes to barren earth, those droplets gathering on bare soils create a slight flow which can expand into a flood of water.

The severity of erosion can also depend on the directional exposure of the soils and winds, along with any rocks and debris within that area.

When soil erosion occurs, it can happen with a great force of moving rocks and stones from the size of basketballs up to huge boulders can be dislodged. The fast-moving slurry of soil and debris can be destructive along the path of a rainstorm, and when water and soil mix together, it becomes mud.

There are multiple techniques and ways to lessen the devastation of a fast-moving mud and debris flow. Here are some of them.

First, direct or stop the flow.

Generally, sandbags are what is most commonly used and can be installed quickly. The bags can be placed or stacked in order to fit the situation. When placing the sandbags at the toe of a slope, make sure that they are stacked on an incline toward the angle of the slope. Sandbags can also be used as a small temporary wall deflecting the running water toward a specific direction.

Silt baffle fencing can be used on slopes to aid in the silt debris catching, while allowing the water to run through the fabric. This wall baffle must be staked to secure it in place.

Jute netting is an organic landscape fabric comes in four-foot widths and after laying it out must be secured with metal pins. One of the key values of this mat is that it can be cut open and ground covers or shrubs and trees can be planted within it.

Straw wattles or tubing comes in 25-foot lengths and must be staked and secured to the earth with wooden stakes every 4 feet. When installing the tubing, the distance between the straw wattles depends on the angle of the slope. The steeper the slope the closer the wattles. On flat areas, doing a contour installation of the wattle has merit for soil retention as well.

Hydroseeding has good value but should be installed before the rainy season in order for the seeds, which are embedded into a slurry of shavings and water and come in various seed mixtures, to bind with the soil underneath. The slurry is sprayed onto a landscape, be it a slope or other areas, and irrigation will aid in the germination of the seeds, such as annuals or perennials. It can be a little pricy but is cost effective for many erosion applications.

Bales of straw can be used in creating a wall or barrier to stop debris flow, but they should be secured into the soil and staked securely to hold them in place.

Gabions are heavy gauge large wire baskets that come in assorted sizes. They are secured in place for the specific area and filled with rip-rap cobble which becomes very heavy and is used for creeks and large slope retention projects.

Plastic sheeting can be installed to protect soil from washing away under different scenarios and very easy to install. It should be secured with the weight of sandbags along the margins. But this is a temporary fix, and future plantings on bare soils might be the way to go.

Retaining walls with various materials can be the permanent fix for some situations, and there are many materials and ways to install these walls. They can range from concrete blocks in various sizes to a natural fieldstone wall. Rip-rap, which is natural stones, can be quite handsome if laid properly. I use a lot of broken concrete in my projects which can be the proper solution in the right place, for I like to recycle materials in my landscaping, and it can be free.

Diversion swales and silt basins is contouring a property with earthen swales and collecting the rainwater to be utilized throughout the landscape. It’s a method of working with nature and utilizing precious water which will benefit trees and landscape areas.

Consider planting selections.

Homeowners should also remember that the proper plantings can be key in the stabilization of soils. They must have the proper understanding when selecting “the right plants for the right place” to match the specific needs. California native plants are a good avenue to consider, for they have a deep root system that is adapted to the Southern California hilly terrains.

Hydrology management is a must.

Managing rain water is an art and science to understand and must be dealt with properly. Storm rainwater pollution due to soil erosion in and around a garden can contribute to an even larger problem for the planet. Whenever rainwater flows over streets, roofs, gardens, parking lots, building sites, forests and farms there can be pollution that ends up in the oceans, and this is not a good thing.

Put rain harvesting in place.

Does the property catch rainwater in barrels, below ground cisterns, diversion channels, bermed earth dams and silt basins? There are many ways in order to retain rainfall, and homeowners should explore these options that may fit their property.

Some of these various materials and equipment can be found at local gardening and supply stores such as Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Also, make sure the gutter systems are clean and all the drainage catch basins have been cleaned out. Are the irrigation systems turned off?

Trees aid tremendously in capturing and storing water for their own use. The trees canopy helps in the break up and dispersal of heavy rain water droplets. Trees can consume and store large volumes of water that can be helpful in defusing sheet water as well.

With these early seasonal rains, homeowners must remember it is still in mid-winter, and I assume more rains will arrive to benefit the soils, aquifers, dams, reservoirs, farms and home gardens and that is a good thing. And thank the rain for giving residents the verdant green hills that abound throughout the community.

Roger Boddaert The Tree Man of Fallbrook and Maker of Natural Gardens can be reached for consultations at (760) 728-4297.


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