Two of the most important things in the natural world are soil and water. In the right balance, they support the plant life that ultimately keeps all plants and animals alive. But when the relationship between these two essential elements is out of balance, erosion can occur.
The uncontrolled movement of water across unprotected soil leads to erosion, and this situation can be incredibly destructive. Most of us frame it in terms of agriculture, which certainly can suffer costly damage from erosion.
However, developed areas are not immune from the damaging impacts of erosion. Issues with water and soil around a building can lead to costly damage in several different ways, not just in the structure itself but also to its value. This makes it vital that every homeowner, developer, contractor, and builder is attentive to the protection of soil and control of water around all types of buildings. Let’s look at how to accomplish these two goals.
The most important thing in erosion control is having the soil covered. It can tolerate considerable water movement if there is thick, healthy vegetation growing there.
Research your area’s climate zone, then determine which species of grass best suits your needs. Don’t forget to consider other ground covers for areas that may be difficult to mow. Then follow proper techniques for sowing and maintaining the grass. Be on the lookout for bare spots, and make sure to quickly re-seed any areas that must be dug up for utility repair or other purposes.
Don’t forget about trees. They provide a deep control that can help prevent the collapse of banks and slopes, and their leaves provide some much-needed help to the grass beneath. (With that said, don’t let leaves accumulate so deep in the fall that they kill grass.) Have the landscaping contractor include some quality shade trees in their final work on the site
With the massive scale of many commercial developments, they often border streams, creeks, or rivers, creating challenges in the management of stream banks.
It may be possible to grade the banks or to plant trees to minimize this effect, but before taking any steps to deal with streambank erosion, contact the appropriate regulator agencies. Your city, county, or state, and even the federal government may have jurisdiction over the situation and could levy fines against you for performing unauthorized work. In the meantime, you can control your site drainage so that it doesn’t contribute to the problem.
This is a huge area of concern during construction. A large development may have many acres of graded soil without vegetation. It’s a huge volume of water that must be spread out as much as possible to minimize the effect.
There are many techniques you can utilize for these purposes. Straw bales staked across waterways are a common technique for meeting government codes. Drains should also be properly filtered to prevent soil from leaving the site. Another important consideration is the management of gutters and other structural runoff; if these potentially massive flows are not properly distributed, they can overwhelm even the best measures further down the line.
Water and soil are both very powerful forces. In order to keep them in the proper balance and to subsequently protect property and buildings, you must manage them in careful balance. Protect the soil by properly grading and covering it. Keep the water from moving too heavily through any one area by spreading it out whenever you can.
And make sure that you utilize good maintenance techniques for whatever interventions you create, and that you do so within the confines of all appropriate laws. Water runoff and erosion control are heavily regulated issues, so be sure that throughout construction, someone is assigned to the duty of staying abreast of the requirements set forth by all authorities with jurisdiction.