Marketplace Intro: Erosion control methods

When choosing an erosion control product, “always look at the grade of the slope, slope length, rainfall and water flow,” says Jeff Langner, sales and marketing communication manager at Profile Products in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

There are a number of ways to control erosion, including blankets, hydroseeding, vegetative barriers and silt fencing. Whether you need to control erosion on a hillside, in a ditch or near a construction site, options abound in a variety of price ranges.

Blankets and hydraulic mulch
Using erosion control blankets, or mats, is the most popular way to keep water from ruining a landscape. It can also be a more economical method, depending on the blanket material.

Straw blankets are the basic starter blankets. Available in single net or double net, they can last up to 12 months and work well with a 3-to-1 slope or less and a low-flow channel. Blankets made of a straw-coconut blend are the next tier. They can offer up to two-year protection on 2-to-1 slopes and medium flow channels. Above them are coconut blankets, which are double-netted for use in high flow channels with 1-to-1 slopes. Excelsior blankets, which contain wood particles, are another option for steep slopes.

“I don’t think there are any disadvantages to any of the blanket materials,” says George Sholy, president of S&S Landscaping, Fargo, North Dakota. “Every time you jump to a higher quality, you will have better results.”

For severe slopes and areas with heavy rainfall, Langner recommends a turf reinforcement mat (TRM) or the company’s GreenArmor system. Most products used in erosion control are a temporary fix, but when using a TRM, the slope is permanently modified. Its open matrix allows roots to grow in it, and the matrix stays as a permanent fixture once roots are established.

“In ditches or near streams, a TRM is an effective tool to hold off water flow,” Langner says.

The GreenArmor system combines a hydraulically applied product with a TRM to provide double control. One hydraulically applied product, Flexterra, dries into a blanket to give seeds the needed time to germinate, which is another factor landscapers should consider when looking for erosion control products. Langner says that while blown straw that is disced in is a popular option, it may be washed or blown away before seeds can germinate.

“We’re talking about growing grass, slowing the sediment loss,” Langner says. “You need coverage of seed, the ability to absorb good moisture, trap moisture and protect the seed from being washed away.”

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