DIY Erosion Control

This summer I had an unfortunate incident with water in the basement, and the people fixing the issue recommended I focus on the drainage in the front yard. Over the years, the dirt right by the house had become packed down to level instead of sloping away, therefore giving the water more opportunity to hang around by the foundation. This is exactly what you want when trying to store water in the earth for the benefit of trees; not so much near structures.

So, in November I had a bunch of black dirt imported to regrade the drainage before the first winter snow flew – with about two days’ notice. Not enough time to get the bare dirt covered. I bought covering material, but there was no time  to apply it before this fall’s Surprise Business Trip. Hooray, muddy mess in spring!

The snow melted, and was never replaced. Hooray, second chance! You can see from the smudges of dirt on the pavement from the melting of even the tiny bit of snow we did get that the risk of erosion was real.

The original plan was to separate bales of oat straw from a local garden center into those nice little “books” they tend to split into on their own, and lay them out to cover the bare ground evenly. The compression of the straw should hold the books together long enough for snow to mat them down for the rest of the winter; I would tack down the ones on the edges with landscape fabric staples. The straw would degrade over the winter and spring, and make a nice mulch-in-place for the medicinals I plan for 2012.

As I laid out the books this fine January day of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and reflected on the 20 mph wind already tickling the edges of the straw, I realized this was a terrible idea.  I needed something better to hold the straw down. I dashed into the garage and found a lovely roll of 7′ bird netting!! A quick roll down the center sidewalk gave me a smooth place to unfold the amount I needed, and I had just enough landscape staples to tack down the edges. Voila! A nearly-invisible retention system that increased the visual match to the rest of the winter yard. Barely ghetto at all!

The best thing was, I completed an entire project by myself without having to run to the store for ANYTHING. A distinctly rare pleasure, that I hope to see more of in 2012. After taking Sharon Astyk’s Adapting in Place course in April 2011 I’ve been thinking about what supplies I should lay in; she emphasizes how nice it is to have project materials stored ready to hand, and after this I thoroughly agree.

The best thing about the entire original situation was that I HATED the plants by the foundation! And now they’re gone! Mwahahaha!


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