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10 Erosion Control Methods for Worksites and Shorelines

10 Erosion Control Methods for Worksites and Shorelines

Protect Your Worksite and the Earth with These Erosion Control Methods

When left unchecked, erosion can cause big problems for construction sites, restoration projects, and other work sites. Wind, rainfall, runoff, and other factors increase soil erosion and threaten the structural integrity where you’re working. They can also harm the environment, resulting in costly fines from regulators. That’s why it’s important to consider erosion control methods that you can use to combat this problem and reduce the risk of expensive damage.

Here’s a breakdown of some common solutions that can help you reduce erosion.

Directing and Controlling Your Runoff and Sediment

You can greatly reduce your problems with erosion and sediment by taking steps to control your flow of runoff. This water carries sediment and can dump it into clean waterways if not dealt with properly.

In smaller areas, you can start by establishing a clean and secure perimeter around your site. You can accomplish this with a temporary silt fence barrier trenched into the ground. Silt fences are a quick erosion control method for dealing with displaced soil, sediment, or sand.

Next, create a sediment trap or ditch that you can redirect runoff to. You can control the inflow with diversion ditches dug into the up-sloe side of your construction site.

Finally, if your site borders a clean body of water or watercourse, make sure to install turbidity barriers or silt curtains. These barriers are made of geotextile membrane, where the top floats on the water and the bottom is anchored to the bottom with weights. It keeps sediment contained to one side of the barrier, allowing you to prevent its spread into waterways.

GeotextilesImage of geotextiles being used for erosion control methods

Among erosion control methods, geotextiles are one that almost every site should consider in some form. These mats are made from materials like coconut fibers, straw, or synthetics, and come in woven and unwoven varieties. They’re used on soil over which retaining structures, embankments, pipelines, and roads will be built.

Woven geotextiles are open mesh structures made of fibers warp-knitted together. They’re typically placed under rip rap, driveways, roads, railroads, and anywhere else with high traffic or heavy objects.

Non-woven geotextiles have a closed felt-like fabric surface, made by meshing fabric fibers into a thick compressed material. Their felt-like exterior makes water able to flow through them quickly. This keeps water flows high while still filtering out sediment. They can be used anywhere with filtration or drainage.

Geotextiles are also classified according to the functions they best serve, including filtration, separation, drainage, sealing, and reinforcement.

The geotextiles come bound up in a roll. One application method is rolling them out over the surface of a river bank to prevent erosion on a freshly graded slope. You can sometimes even establish vegetation over the geotextile. The roots will interlock with the fibers. Don’t do this on channels with lots of sediment though, or the sediment will deposit in the geotextile and destroy the vegetation.

Geotextiles are useful erosion control methods because they’re eco-friendly, easy and simple to install, and require relatively low maintenance.

Brush Mattresses

Geotextiles aren’t the only erosion control methods that are simple, biodegradable, and low-maintenance though. A brush mattress consists of branches anchored to the ground with stakes. It captures sediment during rainstorms, protecting the bank. It works great along perennial streams with ample sunlight. Keep in mind though, the system must be placed within the soil so the mattress absorbs water. Also be aware that it has the drawback that heavy rain can wash away the fascines.

Gabions and Reno Mattresses

Gabions and Reno mattresses are rectangular baskets of steel woven wire mesh, laced together and filled with stone and/or concrete rubble. They’re used for channel linings, slope stabilization, retaining walls, and other erosion control methods. They work best in locations where there’s a bank of small rocks and a high probability of soil erosion.

Reno mattresses and gabions aren’t the prettiest solution, and have some weaknesses. You have to give the design of the footing special attention in areas susceptible to unstable water flow and rapid erosion. However, they’re easy to build, cost effective, and require no additional drainage.

Rootwad Composites

Rootwad composites are systems of interlocking tree materials including masses of tree roots called rootwads. They not only stabilize streambanks by lowering flow speeds but also provide aquatic wildlife with habitats. They’re cost-effective and extremely environmentally friendly, but much more complicated to install than other erosion control methods.

Tree Revetments

A tree revetment is when you anchor trees along a streambank to slow the current along the bank, decrease erosion, and trap silt and sand in the branches. They’re high-maintenance but cost-effective and great for establishing live river trees along the shore. Check whether you need a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before you start building, and consult this guide from the Missouri Department of Conservation to learn how to build the revetment.

Long-Term Erosion Control Methods: Rip Rap, Outcropping, and Seawalls

Unfortunately, you can’t always just put temporary measures in place during work and then leave when you’re done. You may have to put longer-term fixes in place to protect the area from erosion farther into the future. That’s where rip rap, outcropping, and seawalls come in.

Rip rap and outcropping are common erosion control methods made from layers of interlocking stones. Outcropping typically consists of solid, flat, heavy rocks blasted out of limestone. Rip rap, also referred to as shot rock or rock armor, consists of smaller stones layered together to give a more natural appearance. These erosion control methods look great and provide ample long-term protection for pond, river, and lake shorelines.

Seawalls are basically what they sound like. These steel abetment walls are built into the ground along a shoreline. They provide solid protection for shorelines from erosion caused by weather, excessive boat wakes, and more.

However, these long-term solutions are bigger projects than the others listed here. They aren’t jobs you should tackle on your own. Seawalls Unlimited is the go-to contractor for implementing these erosion control methods in McHenry, IL and the greater Chicagoland area. Give us a call at (815) 331-8830 and one of our experienced professionals will visit your site for a consultation. Protect your property from the effects of erosion—now, and for years to come!


Seawalls Unlimited
2350 W. Rte. 120
McHenry, IL 60051
(815) 331-8830


Use our form to estimate the initial cost of renovation or installation.

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