Runoff erosion is one of the greatest causes of soil loss. Topsoil can be washed away quickly, but takes many years to replenish. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid losing valuable topsoil to runoff, where it is lost through streams and rivers on the bottom of lakes or even in the ocean. This article will look at simple steps that can be taken to avoid topsoil erosion loss in the yard.
It is important to protect soil at all times. Always have a lawn, garden, flowerbed, or mulch on the soil. Bare soil is most easily eroded and lost into waterways as runoff. Nutrients can also leach out of the soil, especially during the winter. Protect the vegetable garden with a winter mulch of autumn leaves to prevent winter leaching and erosion. Leaching and erosion are reduced during the growing season, but retain a mulch especially if the garden is on a slope. When gardening in rows, always make the rows perpendicular to the slope to hinder rather than enhance runoff. Cover areas that are recently dug if rain is expected. If it is windy, keep soil moist to reduce wind erosion.
Look for areas of the yard that exhibit runoff, and install plants that act as filters. If water is flowing off an area, divert it onto grass or other vegetation that stops runoff and allows the water to drop the soil that it is carrying. As long as water is not slowed, it continues to carry sediment, but once slowed will drop what it is carrying. The better it is slowed, the more particles it will drop. Plant grass or other plants that hold the soil, and allow them to catch runoff. In serious cases, build a drainage holding area to allow water that collects there to drop its sediment.
Look for alternatives in areas unfit for lawns. Lawn does not grow well in shaded areas, and thin grass is not much better than no grass for preventing erosion. Groundcovers that grow well in the shade can hold soil down, and not need to be mown. Allow leaves to remain in these areas unless they are excessive, or spread a mulch of chopped leaves among the groundcover to prevent erosion, especially on a slope. Slopes can be planted with perennials and groundcovers, or mulched to prevent erosion. Terracing and retaining walls can also be added to the slope to catch runoff, and they make a great foundation to incorporate the garden around.
By taking these precautions with open soil and runoff, gardeners can preserve the topsoil in their yards and gardens, prevent topsoil runoff from contaminating rivers and lakes, and avoid having to purchase replacement topsoil.