Water, it's the primary cause of erosion, and when we get heavy rains in our area, the impact loosens the material bonding the topsoil together. And for homeowners with slopes and hillsides on their property, those hard rains running down the hillside can cause terrible mudslides to occur. In Southern California, the worst-case scenario recently became a reality, with torrential downpours following one of the worst fire seasons California has experienced in recent history.
Soil erosion is the loss of topsoil, which is the top layer of soil that also happens to contain the most organic and nutrient-rich material. The natural factors that contribute to this erosion include wind and water. Since areas in SoCal have been in a drought, vegetation has been depleted, which makes it easier for soil particles to get lifted by the rain – a sudden downpour can cause immense damage.
At one point during the recent downpour in parts of Southern California, more than 1.5-inches of rain fell in one hour. According to the National Weather Service, about a half inch of rainfall per hour is enough to start mudslides.
We can do some things that can prevent soil erosion from happening. Here’s what you can do: plant trees and other plants on hillsides, which can be an added benefit in the long run and help prepare your landscape for any future natural occurrences. Trees with hearty, deep roots are going to provide the most benefit as they tend to stabilize the soil and can help pull water out of an over-saturated ground. It’s also a good idea to plant shrubs and other plants so that they can help reduce runoff by holding soil in place with their root systems.
Here’s How Planting Trees Can Help Prevent Soil Erosion
- Tree canopies can protect the soil from the impact of rain – canopies block the rain from reaching the soil
- Transpire large amounts of water
- Stems and leaves slow water down
- Deep-rooted trees bind soil – tree roots can act like glue so that they can keep the soil intact and the minimize the amount of washed away soil
- Trees with strong root systems thrive on hillsides and can help stabilize slopes
Planting the right trees on your hillside can do more than prevent soil erosion, they can also bring color, shade, and be a source of food. Be sure to select evergreen trees as these types of trees do not lose their leaves and keep their protective canopy so that they can help prevent too much rain from impacting the soil. Consider planting citrus trees on your hillside. Citrus trees will keep their glossy dark green leaves, bloom very fragrant flowers in the spring and start producing fruit early in the summer so that they can ripen in fall and winter.