Erosion is a natural occurrence, but its effects on properties can be devastating. If you’ve seen videos of homes sliding down the side of a hill during a rainstorm, it’s possible that the same can happen to your property if no preventive measures are in place.
What Happens During Erosion?
Erosion occurs when soil shifts from one position to another. This can happen due to natural or man-made causes such as heavy rainfall and construction activities. In soil erosion, the top layer of soil is gradually loosened and scraped away. This has many devastating effects including runoff, decreased groundwater filtration, and more.
Below are three common causes of soil erosion:
#1 Heavy Rainfall
Water is a powerful force. During Florida’s rainy seasons, the soil is more prone to erosion. When raindrops come in contact with the soil, they “disperse” the sediments and wash the soil particles away in runoff. Loosen particles end up in roads, walkways, etc. resulting in potential safety hazards.
#2 Strong Winds
Areas that experience drier seasons are vulnerable to high winds. Just like water, strong winds can pick up loosen soil particles and scrape away the topsoil. The particles are swept away and deposited in other areas.
Construction involves several processes such as filling and grading — both of which reduce the quality of the soil. Constructing buildings and other structures requires the use of heavy equipment that can kill the vegetation that is responsible for holding the soil particles in place. When these root systems are damaged, the area becomes more prone to erosion.
How Does Erosion Affect Residential Properties?
Homes are built on the soil. Erosion affects residential properties through landslides that occur when the soil underneath the property loosens and naturally moves downward because of gravity. This is particularly true in properties that are built on hills, cliffs, and sloped areas. In some areas where the soil is extremely loose, properties can completely slide away.
What Are Some Factors to Consider?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for erosion. Regardless of where your property is situated, whether it’s a hill or a slope, the land surrounding your property can help determine the appropriate method for preventing erosion. Below are a couple of factors to keep in mind when deciding on the best solution for your property:
If your property is on top of a slope that is lower than 33%, using mulch can keep the soil in place as well as protect the topsoil from degradation. If the slope is greater than 33%, it may be difficult to access the slope, thus preventing you from planting enough trees and bushes to stop erosion.
Is the topsoil sitting on a rock, or is it on a deep layer of subsoil? You’ll need to determine whether the topsoil can accommodate vegetation. Plants won’t be able to take root in rocky areas. Also, is the property on sandy or clay-like soil? You need to keep in mind that sandy soil is more prone to running off because of its loose particles.
#3 Sun and Shade
If you’re planning on planting vegetation to prevent erosion, you need to first make sure that the plants will be getting enough sunlight. Observe the area for a couple of days to see whether or not the sunlight the area receives is adequate. If it’s on a shaded area, planting vegetation may not bring you the desired results.
If you hired a property manager, he/she can help you determine which parts of your property are prone to erosion.
How Can You Prevent Soil Erosion?
To guard your property investment against soil erosion, consider the following solutions:
#1 Build a Terrace
Properties that are built on a slope or hillside are more prone to erosion. This is because the incline naturally allows the soil to side down at a faster rate. An effective solution is to build garden terraces along the side of the slope. The terraces act as “steps” that prevent runoff from flowing downhill.
#2 Use Plants
The easiest solution is to plant trees and bushes on a hill. Trees such as fir trees, willow trees, and cascara trees dig their roots deep into the soil, helping the soil stay put. Cover crops like clover, rye, and vetch are also excellent choices, as their net-like roots keep topsoil in place. Plus, vegetation makes your property’s hillside look more lush — a feature that can attract more prospective tenants.
#3 Use Erosion Control Blankets
Erosion control blankets are mesh-like mats that are made of biodegradable materials including mulch. By rolling out these mats along the side of a hill, they keep the soil underneath in place. Compost blankets are an excellent choice in areas where vegetation hasn’t completely grown yet. Their mesh-like material allows plants to receive air and sunlight, take root, and eventually “take over” the job of the erosion control mat.
#4 Build a Retaining Wall
Retaining walls are more expensive than the solutions listed above. They are similar to garden terraces except that they are more permanent. Retaining walls, as the name suggests, help retain soil by forcing them into position. The benefit of building a retaining wall is that you can make mini gardens, sprucing up your property’s landscaping.
#5 Install Turbidity Barriers
One of the negative effects of erosion is water pollution. If your property is situated beside a body of water, installing turbidity barriers prevents eroded soil from reaching lakes, streams, and more. This ensures that soil remains on land.
#6 Build Diversions
This last solution works best for properties on steep slopes. An effective way to prevent erosion is by building diversions that help redirect water along a path, keeping it away from the soil. By building open ditches and drains, excess water can be diverted away from the slope. You can also use pipes and gutters for a more do-it-yourself approach.
With the right preventive measures, you don’t have to worry about your property investment literally slipping away during heavy rainfall. By hiring Luxury Property Care, you can gain confidence that professional property managers are conducting routine property inspections to determine the risk of erosion, as well as to provide effective solutions. Once our property managers spot any issue, we’ll immediately get to work to ensure that your rental property can withstand the strongest of winds and the heaviest of rain.