5620 West Birch Harbor Drive, Wasilla, AK 99623
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21 Aug 2017

How to Stop Hillside Erosion on Your Property

Are you tired of watching all your time and money get washed away by a heavy rain?

Hillside erosion is a destructive and costly problem for many Alaskan homeowners.

You know how it goes.

After a storm or snowmelt, your landscaping is ruined.

Your yard is muddy.

Your basement is flooded.

Your foundation is cracked because of water damage.

And in the end, you are left with the cleanup and cost of repairs.

You’ve tried everything.

Or have you?

It turns out that one structure can dramatically reduce soil erosion on the steep slopes of your property.

That saves you time and money!

Today, I’m going to show what that structure is and how it can stop hillside erosion.

What is Soil Erosion?

Before I talk about the structure that can prevent hillside erosion on your property, let me share some quick facts about soil erosion in Alaska.

According to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, “erosion is the detachment and movement of soil particles, rock fragments, or solids, by the action of wind, water, ice, or gravity.”

That is pretty straightforward.

The displacement of soil is often increased or accelerated by natural forces and as a result of human activities.

Natural Forces That Accelerate or Increase Hillside Erosion

Although soil erosion is a naturally occurring process, its rate and magnitude can be increased by intense natural forces such as rainfall, slope gradient, vegetation and climate change.

> Rainfall

Severe rain can loosen soil particles and transport them downhill.

In Alaska, the chance of rain increases as the summer progresses.

By August, the chance of rain is over 50%.

As a result, soil erosion can increase or accelerate during the summer months.

> Steep Slopes

The steeper a slope, the harder gravity pulls soil and water downhill.

“Angle of repose” is a landscaping term that describes how steep a slope is based on a ratio of rise to run.

  • 4:1 – This angle of repose is an ideal slope for homeowners because it can be easily planted and absorbs water well.
  • 3:1 – This is typically the maximum angle of repose allowed by city or county codes. This is the steepest incline allowed because lawn mowers cannot safely be used on this angle of repose.
  • 2:1 – This is the steepest incline capable of supporting plant life. Erosion can be more severe on this angle of repose because water flows down the hill rather than soaking into the soil.

> Vegetation

Soil that lacks vegetation is much more susceptible to erosion.

Plants prevent rain drops from freely falling onto the ground and they hold the soil particles together with their roots underground.

Vegetation can increase slope stabilization.

> Climate Change

Sudden changes in the climate can increase or accelerate soil erosion.

A drought dries up the land and makes the soil susceptible to sudden rain and wind.

Changing winds can expose previously sheltered areas.

Human-Induced Soil Erosion

Human activities can accelerate soil erosion, including:

> Deforestation

Like we talked about previously, large root systems hold the soil together and help prevent erosion.

Thus, deforestation exposes the land and greatly increases the chance of soil erosion.

This is especially true when no reforestation efforts are made to combat the cutting down of large forests.

> Intensive Farming

Excessive plowing and fertilization can cause the land to become dry and barren.

When farm land is not allowed to lie fallow between crops, the soil is not able to produce humus.

Humus is an organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays.

Without this humus, the soil will lack the nutrients and minerals that keep the land moist and aerated.

This makes the soil more susceptible to water and wind erosion.

> Construction

Housing development and the building of roads are massive earthworks that leave the soil bare and loose.

Without careful planning and attention, the soil can be eroded by wind and rain.

The result could be more frequent landslides and flooding near the area of construction.

Overall…

These factors, whether occurring naturally or due to human activities, are the cause of hillside erosion on your property.

Hillside Erosion + Destroyed Yard & Foundation = Lost Time & Money

  

Hillside erosion is a destructive and expensive problem.

Don’t believe me?

Most homeowners spent between $1,480 and $5,328 to install landscaping on their property.

Consider all the extra money you have spent on maintaining your landscaping annually.

And let’s not forget about the cost of any special landscaping projects you have completed over the years.

It really starts to add up.

Think about all the time you have invested too.

Each week, the average American spends 14 hours tending to landscaping and gardening.

That’s nearly 728 hours every year!

Depending on the size and needs of your property, it could be more.

Now imagine all your hard work and money being wasted and washed away because of hillside erosion.

Maybe you don’t need to imagine it, because it has happened to you.

Now hang on… it could get worse.

Soil erosion is also a main cause of foundation cracks and flooded basements.

Hillside erosion prevents a protective layer of topsoil or vegetation from forming on the ground surrounding your home.

Without this layer, the soil is unable to absorb water effectively.

The soil is forced to expand and contract to absorb the water.

This expansion and contraction puts severe pressure on your foundation.

This pressure can crack the walls of your basement and could eventually cause your entire foundation to fail.

It can cost between $1,859 and $6,314 to fix a cracked foundation.

Major repairs can set you back $10,000 or more!

 

Moreover, water that cannot be absorbed by the soil around your house will rest against the foundation and flood your basement.

Depending on the size of your basement and the extent of the water damage, repairing and renovating a flooded basement can be costly.

On average, homeowners paid $2,435 to repair water damages.

Altogether, soil erosion could cost you tens of thousands of dollars!

But don’t worry. There’s a solution for controlling hillside erosion.

The best way to stop soil displacement is to hold it in place.

It’s that easy.

All you need do is have a Natural Rock Retaining Wall installed on the steep slopes of your property.

Stop Soil Erosion on Your Property with Retaining Walls

The concept is simple.

Retaining walls are protective barriers that are installed at the bottom of a slope to prevent soil displacement.

Farmers, engineers, landscapers, and homeowners alike frequently employ this structure to effectively control soil erosion.

Plus, retaining walls enhance the beauty and usability of your property.

While it sounds straightforward, designing and installing a retaining wall is a difficult and complex project.

In order for a retaining wall to successfully prevent hillside erosion, landscaping specialists and engineers have to consider a variety of factors.

Some include: the retaining wall angle, height, material, construction design, water flow and drainage, building codes, ground conditions, and much more.

Wood & Concrete vs. Natural Rock

Many landscaping companies use wood or concrete to build retaining walls.

This is the problem…

Water, gravity, wind and the freezing Alaskan temperatures wear away these man made materials.

Wood or concrete retaining walls require the installation of drain rocks and perforated pipes to catch and direct water.

Without this drainage system, water will collect behind the wall.

This collection of water will freeze, expand and put pressure on the unnatural wood and block materials.

This will cause the manmade retaining wall to warp and eventually fail.

You need materials that have stood the test of time and endured the harsh Alaskan elements.

Rock Landscaping specializes in designing and constructing Natural Rock Retaining Walls.

We use natural stone from the local area and environment to build our retaining walls.

Why?

Unlike wood or concrete, the natural stone has survived Alaskan weather for millions of years.

Natural rock lasts for more than a lifetime!

Additionally, natural rock retaining walls do not require a drainage system.

Like it has been doing for millennia, water naturally bleeds through the rocks and is diverted away.

Natural rocks constructions also allow for water expansion and contraction without damaging the retaining wall.

How Can You Use Natural Rock Retaining Walls to Control Hillside Erosion (Case Studies)

Natural rock provides our landscapers and engineers with unlimited design options.

Every project has called for a unique solution, and we deliver!

Here are a few projects that showcase our most common natural rock retaining wall designs:

> Small or Large Single Retaining Wall – Eagle River, AK

Because 80% of homes in Eagle River are located on hillsides and switchbacks, many of our landscaping projects utilize a single natural retaining wall to combat soil erosion.

For these projects, Rock Landscaping began by excavating a portion of the slope suffering from soil erosion.

To protect the customer’s landscaping and foundation, a natural rock retaining wall was installed to keep the steep slope from encroaching on the property.

> Tiered or Terrace Retaining Wall System – Wasilla, AK

When Rock Landscaping was initially commissioned for this project, the customer’s front yard was a slope of mud due to hillside erosion.

Because Wasilla has especially hilly terrain, our team of retaining wall experts had to create two flat tiers in the middle of the slope.

  

Our retaining wall engineers and landscapers constructed two natural rock retaining walls to hold back the soil.

Rock Landscaping also created a rock bed at the bottom of the slope to effectively absorb water flowing down from the first and second terrace.

The lawn was finished with hydroseeding.

Since the installation of our natural rock retaining walls, the yard has not been washed away or flooded.

> Retaining Walls Integrated with a Natural Rock Stairway – Matanuska-Susitna Valley, AK

For this project, a downgrade on our client’s property was directing water and soil toward the foundation.

This steep slope also prevented an attractive, usable yard.

First, our landscapers graded the slope and created multiple terraces that would eventually become flowerbeds.

Natural rock retaining walls were constructed to prevent hillside erosion and effectively direct water away from the home and yard.

Finally, we created a natural stone staircase in the middle of the slope and retaining walls for quick maneuverability up and down the hill.

The natural rock staircase also increased soil stability on the slope to further control erosion.

In the end, our customer’s foundation was no longer at risk of damage and the yard became a usable space on the property.

Get Your Own Custom Natural Rock Retaining Wall

Stop wasting time and spending tens of thousands of dollars on ruined landscaping, flooded basements and damaged foundations.

A natural rock retaining wall will prevent soil erosion and let fully you enjoy the beauty of your Alaskan property.

But remember…

Building a natural rock retaining wall is not a DIY project.

Successfully controlling hillside erosion requires an expert who understands soil erosion, retaining wall construction and the unique Alaskan environment.

If you are considering installing a retaining wall to stop hillside erosion on your property, hire a professional.

It’ll all be worth it.

This is where I tell you about what Rock Landscaping has to offer.

Feel free to stop reading, if you are happy with your current landscaping and soil erosion control strategy.

Here’s how we stand out from other landscaping companies:

We use Natural Rock when constructing our retaining walls. They don’t.

With over 30+ years of knowledge and experience, our soil engineers and professional landscapers find custom natural rock retaining wall solutions that work for you and last forever!

Call or contact Rock Landscaping.

There is no obligation.

Feel free to ask us any landscaping or gardening questions and learn more about our natural rock retaining walls.

We look forward to speaking with you!


References:

http://www.plants.alaska.gov/SoilSedimentControl.html

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/landscape/#closing-article

http://time.com/money/4214377/reader-poll-how-much-spend-gardening/

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/foundations/repair-a-foundation/

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/disaster-recovery/repair-water-damage/

20 Oct 2015

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