Erosion is the process by which soil particles are displaced. Typically erosion is caused by water, but there are other types caused by wind and gravity. Erosion is accelerated when water is moving fast and when there is a large volume of it washing over the soil. Erosion strips the soil of nutrient rich topsoil and deposits it in other areas that may not be suitable. In New Mexico, and especially in areas adjacent to mountain ranges such as Santa Fe, the annual monsoons will dump large amounts of water in a very short time. These intense rainstorms are the cause of much damage to residential home sites throughout the region.
We can't avoid the rainstorms, but we can reduce the erosion they cause. There are some fundamental concepts that, when used effectively, can reduce or eliminate erosion. The key to stopping erosion is to anchor the soil in place and to slow down the water moving across it. Listed below are several approaches to erosion control.
The best way to hold the soil in place is to plant vegetation. One solution is the revegetation of disturbed areas with native grasses. Mallory Landscape and Design utilizes a hydromulcher to apply a slurry mix of aspen based mulch, grass seed, tackifier, and fertilizer onto disturbed areas around a building site or on eroding slopes. The mix of grama and buffalo grasses has the ability to withstand drought and can be mown or left natural. When the application of the native grass seed is timed properly, germination occurs in a matter of weeks.
Erosion Control Blankets:
Erosion control blankets are temporary, degradable mats constructed of various materials such as straw or jute. They are installed over the targeted area, often on top of grass seed, in order to prevent the loss of topsoil and to slow the movement of water. The mats provide excellent conditions for quick and healthy vegetation establishment while easily conforming to landscape features. Additionally, they prevent sedimentation of drainage channels, streets, and walkways and provide long term protection for dormant seeding throughout winter months.
A technique that has gained popularity in the past several years is the construction of a dry streambed or arroyo within the landscape. In the arid and drought prone climate of the southwest, this design element creates the sensation or presence of moving water where none actually exists. Often times the streambed is utilized to capture water from roof drains, or canales, and move it away from the house and into the garden. Other areas of the landscape can be bermed and water directed towards the streambed, introducing the concept of permaculture into the site.
Roof Drainage Capture:
Roof drainage can be collected in a myriad of different ways. Almost everyone is familiar with the common rain barrel, which collects rainwater for later used in the garden. More recently, the installation of cisterns has become standard operating procedure in the construction of new homes in the Santa Fe area. Downspouts or drain basins collect much of the roof water, which is then directed into a cistern. The water is held until needed for irrigation of the landscape. By capturing the water before it ever impacts the building envelope, this source of erosion is reduced significantly.
PLEASE SEE THE REVEGETATION AND EROSION CONTROL GALLERY ON OUR PORTFOLIO PAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.