Preventing Soil Erosion From Damaging Your Foundation (2016 Edition)
Soil erosion happens whenever the elements slowly wear away the topsoil and cause the underlying earth to become exposed. However, this naturally occurring process can worsen in areas hit by deforestation or agricultural overproduction. By removing crops and trees, land developers also remove the root systems that hold topsoil in place. During heavy rains or windy periods, exposed soil loosens and quickly erodes.
What Impact Does Soil Erosion Have?
In the agricultural sector, soil erosion is a common problem since the loss of nutrient-rich topsoil often leads to lower crop yields. However, you don’t have to be a farmer to experience the devastating effects. Soil erosion can also lead to major property damage — even if you live in a suburban or urban setting.
Without a protective topsoil layer in place, the underlying ground has a much harder time retaining or attracting moisture. As a result, the soil around your home can quickly contract and expand — placing tremendous pressure on your property’s foundation. This stress might begin as hairline cracks, but left unattended, those fissures can manifest as much bigger problems like:
Soil erosion can also lead to more serious dangers like landslides and flooding. As the topsoil loosens, there’s nothing left to prevent water, earth and other debris from cascading into your home.
Don’t underestimate the impact of soil erosion around the foundation. It can take hundreds of years for a single inch of soil to form naturally, but it only takes a few years to destroy that layer and put your property at risk.
Are You Having Soil Erosion Problems?
If you live in the Southeast, contact Foundation Repair Services with any questions you may have and for solutions Foundation Repair can provide.
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How Can You Prevent Soil Erosion Around the Foundation?
1. Intelligent LandscapingOne of the most effective steps involves strategically planting bushes, trees and grass around your home to hold topsoil in place and reduce the risk of soil erosion in the future. In areas poorly suited for planting, we also use rocks, mulch and gravel to cover exposed patches. Landscaping can be a DIY job, but the placement is extremely important:
- Plant too close to your home, and the roots can eat into your foundation, causing long-term damage.
- Plant too far away, and the roots won’t be able to regulate the moisture levels surrounding your home.
2. Retaining WallsA retaining wall is a protective barrier installed at the bottom of a slope that prevents soil from cascading down. Once anchored, the retaining wall counteracts the force of gravity and holds the entire slope in place. Installing retaining walls is not a DIY job. Not only is the process dangerous, but you also need to select materials specifically designed for the purpose. Many homeowners make the mistake of using wood retaining walls that haven’t been properly treated or tested. Moreover, some retaining walls require city approvals — especially when dealing with extremely sloped areas.
3. Stepped TerracesWith this approach, we install “mini” retaining walls at regular intervals all the way up the slope. Then we level the ground at each successive layer to create a series of stepped terraces. This is the same technique farmers use when planting rice fields in the mountains. Again, this is not a DIY job — since each successive layer must be carefully analyzed to ensure the entire terrace can support itself.
4. Nets, Meshes and PilesIn more extreme cases, we may have to install protective covers or barriers to keep soil in place. This slope stabilization approach is most suitable whenever:
- The gradient is too steep for traditional retaining walls or stepped terraces.
- The soil is too loose or rocky to employ intelligent landscaping.
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Is Soil Erosion Threatening Your Home?
Erosion-related foundation damage can happen anywhere — but the problem has become especially pronounced in the Carolinas due to years of over-farming and increasingly heavy rainfall.
If you suspect your home is at risk, contact our slope stabilization team for an immediate assessment. Foundation Repair Services can inspect your property and recommend the most appropriate course of action.
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If you live in the Southeast in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, Foundation Repair Services can help solve your soil erosion problem. Contact Us Today with any questions you may have and for solutions Foundation Repair can provide.