You might not give the plants that get drowned in the flowerbed by the north side downspout wherever there’s a heavy rainfall a second thought. Or that the foundation appears to be more exposed on one side of the house than it is anywhere else. But these are two common examples of how soil erosion can manifest itself on your property. Now that the fall rains have returned, being aware of ways to minimize soil erosion can help prevent damage to your home’s exterior.
What is Soil Erosion?
Soil erosion is the gradual or sudden displacement of the topsoil from one place to another by rain, wind, or mass movement such avalanches and mud slides. The topsoil contains a number of nutrients important to plant growth. It also acts as a protective cover to keep the layers of earth underneath the topsoil in place. Soil erosion impacts your property in a variety of ways, including:
- Basement flooding
- A cracked foundation
- Shifting exterior walls; loose or missing siding panels
- Bald spots in your yard
- Flooded flowerbeds
Check the slope of the ground near the foundation of your home: it should ideally slant away from the house. When water flows toward the exterior walls, it can erode the surrounding landscaping, causing basement flooding or the foundation to shift. Try installing a splash block or some type of downspout extension to direct rainwater further away from the house than the downspout is currently depositing it.
If that doesn’t work, consult with a professional contractor or landscaper to see if you need to properly regrade landscaping to avoid any further water damage.
Property with a Steep Incline
If your backyard or front yard includes a steep incline, it will be more of a challenge to keep the topsoil in place. Consider building a retaining wall if there is a constant threat of downhill erosion. In addition to minimizing soil displacement, benefits of a retaining wall also include providing more usable land, managing runoff, and diverting groundwater.
Downspouts are too Close
Even when the slope of the land is downward (away from the house) poor drainage can be an issue. If there is standing water beneath the downpipes, it might be an indication that they are too short and not depositing the water enough distance away from the foundation. Use a downspout extender to guide the runoff somewhere it will not flood the landscaping or “sit” in the yard.
Overflowing gutters will add excess moisture to the soil around your house. If the gutter system consistently overflows the resulting soil erosion can negatively affect the foundation. Ensuring that the gutters are cleaned at least twice a year, the downspouts are debris-free, and any needed repairs are made in a timely fashion will help prevent drainage and water damage issues to your home’s exterior.
Planting Vegetation and Ground Cover
Plant trees, shrubs, bushes, and plants in your front yard and backyard. The root systems of any vegetation you plant on your property will hold the soil in place. The roots will also protect the soil from drying out.
Planting ground cover instead of a turf lawn is a popular trend. Replacing a lawn with leafy and resilient native plants is better for the environment. Many homeowners turn their front yards into a garden meadow, either perennial or annual.
When there are a number of flowerbeds on the property, use mulch to keep the wind from blowing away the topsoil (and they won’t need as much water in the summer).