Erosion Control on Steep Slopes & Embankments

5 Steps for Erosion Control on Steep Slopes and Embankments

For the most part, soil will stay put. However, on steep slopes and embankments, there is the elevated risk of erosion. It is essential to put as much effort as possible into actions that will stop the soil from washing away.  This is because not only could this make the area that has been eroded barren, but it could also adversely affect water supply and introduce pollutants. Additionally, it could take decades to rebuild even the initial layer of topsoil, so it essential to have some insight on how to keep topsoil in place.

There are many methods that could be used to help prevent or stop erosion on steep slopes, some of which are listed below.

Plant Grass and Shrubs

slopeGrass and shrubs are very effective at stopping soil erosion. This is primarily because plant roots tend to hold soil together, making it harder to erode. The leaves of the plants also help to reduce the velocity of raindrops falling on the ground, making it harder for them to dislodge the soil and erode it. Ornamental grass and low, spreading shrubs work best as they leave no areas of bare soil exposed to the elements.

Use Erosion Control Blankets to Add Vegetation to Slopes

There are many varieties of fiber, biodegradable, and compost blankets/mats on the market today, and they have all been designed with one aim; to minimize the effects of water erosion on slopes and embankments. Rolled mats are usually made from mulch that is held together by a fiber mesh. They degrade slowly, allowing vegetation that may have been grown in the area to grow and take over the job of protecting the soil from erosion when the mats have finally degraded completely.  Compost erosion control blankets act similarly to mulch products but provide organic nutrients that promote vegetation growth, even in areas where germination, moisture management and irrigation could be challenging.

Build Terraces

Cascadia Wall Rexford Place ProjectIf you are planning on trying to control the erosion on very steep slopes or embankments, sometimes planting vegetation may just not cut it as the slope may be too steep to support anything other than the hardiest grass due to the rapid rate of erosion. If this is the case, you should consider building terraces to help slow down erosion as the vegetation takes hold. Terraces can be made out of anything, from wood to concrete blocks to bio-mechanical solutions like the Cascadia Green Wall that uses Filter Soxx with natural mulch/seed filling and geogrid for structural stability. The beds that are created by the terraces can then be used to plant vegetation such as ornamental plants or grass.

Create Diversions to Help Drainage

Depending on the incline of the slope or embankment, one of the most effective ways to help prevent erosion is to create diversions which will channel excess water down the slope along a predetermined path. One of the simplest ways to do this is to create open ditches or drains by simply digging along the slope at regular intervals. Use of pipes and gutters is also very effective, and work just as well as natural drains when designed and installed properly.

Talk to our specialists about a specific erosion challenge

34 replies
  1. Jenna Hunter
    Jenna Hunter says:

    We have been living right next to a very steep slope on the side of a mountain for 2 years now and it looks like a landslide is going to happen soon or so says the news. I was surprised to read that building a terrace helps slow down erosion as the vegetation takes hold. We will be sure to get in contact with the city to see if this idea may work for them!

  2. Ashley Maxwell
    Ashley Maxwell says:

    I really like how you said that erosion can degrade. I also like how you said that control blankets can help growing vegetation. My husband and I are looking into erosion control on our property; thanks for the post.

  3. Alexandria Martinez
    Alexandria Martinez says:

    I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day about her interest in erosion control. She was really confused as to how that would work and what the necessary procedures would be. I will let her know that building terraces is a good start.

  4. Jean Sapin
    Jean Sapin says:

    I have a back slope on my hillside property that is losing soil. I need a company that specializes in this problem, and will give me a price estimate on dealing with it. I live in Sherman Oaks, CA in the Santa Monica Mts.

  5. Sabiiti Gilbert
    Sabiiti Gilbert says:

    Am a student of Agricultural land use and management at Makerere university and I want to specialise in Terracing methods. Which special project about soil erosion can I do in order to qualify for Terracing program

  6. Duncan Lance
    Duncan Lance says:

    Erosion can be quite dangerous for many roads and towns, so knowing how to control it is quite important. The article makes a pretty good point with its suggestion to build terraces. After all, with the right services you could build terraces that not only stop erosion, but blend into the natural landscape as well.

  7. Ellie Davis
    Ellie Davis says:

    Thank you for pointing out that on slopes there is an elevated risk of erosion. This seems like something people would want to take into consideration. Hopefully, people will look into finding the best soil stabilization companies. possible.

  8. Stephanie Fonder
    Stephanie Fonder says:

    Thank you for the article. How can I definitively determine slope erosion is occuring? I saw what a
    I believe is evidence of erosion on a completely barren slope behind my property in Corona, CA (HOA maintained slope), so asked them to add ground cover. They sent a vendor to look out who denies there is any erosion. I simply want to avoid future problems.

  9. Donnie
    Donnie says:

    I live in Jonesboro, Georgia a surburb of Atlanta, Georgia. I am looking for a landscape specialist to discuss an erosion problem in my backyard. My lot is downhill from my next door neighbor and the run off water from rain is washing a trench in my yard. Thanks for any help.

    • Willetta Les
      Willetta Les says:

      We only work in Britsh Columbia, Donnie, so you’ll need to find a landscape architect in your area. All the best!

    • Willetta Les
      Willetta Les says:

      Hi Stan, we work in southern British Columbia. Please contact us if you’re in our area; otherwise we recommend contacting a landscape architect or environmental contractor in your area. Take care.

  10. Shaylee Packer
    Shaylee Packer says:

    I have never heard of erosion matts before, to help with erosion. My parents recently moved into a home that backs up to the side of a mountain, and they are nervous about erosion. Would there be a company we can call to have them place the erosion matt for them so they don’t have to worry anymore?

  11. Levi Armstrong
    Levi Armstrong says:

    I find it helpful to know that there’s such a thing called erosion control fabrics that could minimize slope erosions. They allow vegetations to grow in the area to keep the soil from washing away. My grandpa would be thankful for this information because he has a four-hectare land with a dangerous slope that could use erosion control fabric. Thanks for this.

  12. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Great Post! Got to know such useful information, especially about erosion control blankets. When I needed the quality erosion control mats for my infrastructure project, I directly called Ocean Global team, as they are the leading manufacturers that provide cost-effective utility across a range of infrastructure projects that face erosion issues.

  13. bc landscaping
    bc landscaping says:

    I was reading your article about how to maintain erosion control on steep slopes and embankments.
    It’s really great that you are working so hard to educate others about this topic! It’s full of actionable advice backed by years of research from the best minds in the field. I think it would be an excellent resource for anyone looking to protect their land from these kinds of situations.

  14. Gary Gilbert
    Gary Gilbert says:

    Our back yard & garden are bordered in back by a steep wooded slope. Several years ago a construction company cut down the trees 200 meters above us, leveled the land and built new houses. The runoff from those houses componded by deer devouring the vegetation on the wooded slope caused severe erosion in the woods behind us killing many trees and eroding our lawn and garden.
    We solved it (with permission of forest owner) by:
    1. Putting in two 6 inch pipe drains and a water fence behind our property.
    2. Terracing in the woods by buildng successive barriers of fallen branches and logs and biodegradable bags of leaves and other lawn & garden rubbish.
    3. Filling the space behind the barriers with more leaves and hardpan clay dirt removed hole -by-hole from our yard and replaced with purchased fertile soil as we planted new plants in our garden
    4. Transplanting deer resistant native plants, schrubs, and ferns to terraced areas.
    Result: Over the years, erosion stopped or was significantly retarded.

  15. YVR Hedges
    YVR Hedges says:

    I am glad to see that you are passionate about this topic! We all know it’s a huge problem and we need more people like you who are willing to help educate the public.
    Anyway, thanks again for posting such an informative article – I really enjoyed it and learned something new!

  16. Hedge Trimming
    Hedge Trimming says:

    I just finished your article on erosion control. I am so grateful that you are talking about this important topic. I hope more people will start reading about the effects of erosion and take action to be proactive in their communities! Thank you for all the great information you shared. This is very eye opening for me since I have seen some areas where there is no vegetation at all on steep slopes or embankments due to erosion-related reasons!

  17. Dmitrii
    Dmitrii says:

    Thanks for the informative article. The option of building a terrace would really help solve the problem for my sister. While I was looking for an answer to this question, I also found that water erosion is divided into several types: tunnel erosion, gully erosion, spray erosion, channel erosion and sheet erosion and ways to prevent them. Perhaps this will be helpful to someone

  18. DeVos Tree Care
    DeVos Tree Care says:

    Hopefully more people will start reading about erosion’s effects and acting to prevent it in their areas.
    I appreciate you sharing all of the excellent information as we currently have properties around us that are affected by the lake due to people not having enough trees to help erosion.

  19. Bongeka Mpukwana
    Bongeka Mpukwana says:

    I’m living in Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape I do have the problem of soil erosion to be immediately attended is there any company in my Province that can help me out ?

  20. Jillian
    Jillian says:

    Hello, we are building a earth sheltered home in Australia which has 2 tunnels made of dinsel and concrete. The tunnels are side by side with a width of 7.2 meters and 4.2 Mtrs height. We are covering them in soil. Just wondering if you have and ideas on preventing erosion? The sides slope down approximately to 5mtrs .
    Thanks Jillian

  21. Wanafego Uwanumu
    Wanafego Uwanumu says:

    Along our road, estimate around 2.5km, the deposits from all over the place is building up on the middle of the road. We built retaining walls but this was just don’t even make any changes to stop sediment. It is continuous.
    So what will be the best machinical application i can do to stop sedimentation on the road


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