Struggling with soil erosion in a windy / sloped garden?

Are you perhaps one of those unfortunate gardeners that struggle with a sloped garden? Or do you live in an area that receives a great amount of wind?

Then topsoil erosion is likely a huge problem!

Erosion of soil in the urban garden is mostly caused due to the presence of slopes. Simply put, soil erosion occurs when water (rain or irrigation) washes away the topsoil, but also by strong winds, as it removes the top layer of the soil over time.

But why is this necessarily bad?

Through soil erosion, essential nutrients are removed from the soil, water systems get blocked, tree roots get exposed and soggy/swampy conditions can in some cases also occur.

Please tell me there's good news!!

Fortunately there are several methods to prevent this from happening!

In gardens with slopes, prevention is better than cure – as it can take many years to replace the soil lost from erosion and for the area to fully recover.

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Best ways to stop erosion in sloped gardens:

1. Planting the right kind of plants will also help a lot. Indigenous plants are better suited to our climate and will grow stronger, quicker and generally better than others that’s not native.

2. Choose plants that have a robust, fibrous root system – the roots will stabilize the soil by anchoring it and will soak up excess water.

3. Choose plants that that is creeping, crawling and spreading – these will cover a bigger area than those that simply grow upwards.

4. Choose drought tolerant plants and plants that don’t require a lot of nutrients, as the soil on slopes are often poor because of the topsoil that washed away.

5. Choose a combination of trees, shrubs and ground covers – not only are a grouping of different plants more visually appealing; the varying heights will stagger rainfall, lessening the impact on the ground.

6. Mulching around your plants and garden beds will help prevent the soil from being washed away.

7. Install a drip irrigation system to reduce the amount of water runoff (when there's no water restrictions preventing us from irrigating with systems).

8. Worst case scenario: build retaining walls or terraces for very steep slopes.

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More tips to fight general soil erosion in the garden:

  • The best way to prevent soil erosion is to improve the structure of your soil. By adding compost to the soil, you will allow water to seep down into the ground and to the roots of plants instead of just running off.

  • Creating a border of plants around your garden beds will help retain soil in your beds.

  • In very windy gardens: plant trees and tall shrubs around property lines to create windbreaks to keep the soil in your garden from blowing away.

  • Install rain barrels / tanks: these will catch and divert water from running into your garden and washing away soil and plants.

  • Improve drainage: gutters and pipes that drain water effectively out of your garden and into water collection systems.

  • Avoid soil compaction: foot and vehicle traffic compresses soil, making it less porous and more vulnerable to water runoff. Take steps to minimize this effect by: establishing permanent walkways with stepping stones or paving and to encourage people to stay on the walkways.

Whatever solution you choose, that difficult slope or windy garden of yours, holds the promise of many things.

It does NOT have to be a constant source of work or an eyesore– if you tackle it with thought and care you can eventually sit back, relax and enjoy watching as nature takes over!

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