Living in the mountains, I see more erosion problems than I care to. When it rains we have a brownish red river that flows down our road to the highway. Why is the water brownish red? Of course our water is brownish red because we are in the rocky mountains, yours may be just dark brown. Regardless the color, it all is due to erosion of the ground. What is erosion exactly? Erosion is what happens to the soil during rains, especially heavy rains, and it happens mainly where the soil has been disturbed, (see photo), for instance, in a garden, or on a hill side where the hill has been excavated for modern day living, roads, housing, etc. When it rains, it causes the soil to be dug up by the rains, then the flowing water scrapes away the surface, and before you know it, you have gully’s, and valleys flowing through your yard and garden, and this not only looks unsightly, it also washes away your plant seeds, and, or, your plants!
If you are like our family, you like having a garden, whether it be a flower garden, or a vegetable garden, if you have an erosion problem, you are not going to have a good garden! Not to fear, there is help out there for your gardens erosion problem, an erosion blanket is the answer! The following will help you with buying and installing erosion blankets for your garden.
So what exactly is an erosion blanket? An erosion blanket is a roll of fibrous materials manufactured into long flat pieces that are rolled up for easy installation. An erosion blanket can be made from a number of materials, coconut, straw, fabric, and even poly. What material you use all depends on you. For us, we use only natural materials because of allergies to man made materials, so we would only use the blankets made from plant material, but the choice is entirely yours.
When is the best time to install an erosion blanket? You want to install your erosion blanket, obviously before you plant your garden, but don’t wait till spring, the ideal time to install your erosion blanket would be in the fall, with late September being the best time. This of course will differ depending on your zone. The reason for doing this in the fall, is that your blanket will have a few months to embed into your soil, and become a more permanent part of your garden and landscape, making it easier to make you tiny holes to plant your seeds and starters in the spring.
Now for the really fun part of our buying and installing erosion blankets for your garden, the buying! Where do you buy an erosion blanket? I searched Lowes, and Home Depot with no luck, but I found a few places on the Internet that sells natural erosion blankets, as well as poly, and fabric too.
StrawBlanket.com AKA, Enviroscape, is a manufacturer of straw, straw and coconut, coconut, excelsior, and poly blankets.
GreenWiseWholsale.com has a nice line of natural straw erosion blankets. Greenwisewholesale.com uses straw and netting to make a natural, biodegradable erosion blanket.
BenMeadows.com has a really good line of erosion products. Besides blankets, they also have erosion control rolls! BenMeadows also carries erosion blankets made of fabric!
I also found a lot of links on erosion control at Business.com. Many of the companies were focused at big business erosion control sales, but a few cater to backyard gardeners too.
Now let’s get that blanket installed. This is actual the easy part. Step by step, remove all sod from your chosen garden area, till the area about three times, (on different days), then add any lime, bone meal, or any other fall nutrient your soil may need, then get your erosion blanket out, and just roll it out, then take landscape staples to hold it in place, and place a few along the edges to hold your blanket in place. You don’t need a lot, because the rains and dirt under the blanket will in time, hold the blanket in place. If you are doing a garden on the side of a hill, this will require more staples than flat ground. If you are doing a large area, we just use one staple to hold two strips, side by side.
Another form of erosion blankets, although they are not called erosion blankets, are those seeded mats you can buy with wildflower seeds, and other seeds already embedded into the natural fibers. It is very much the same thing, but with seeds already in them, so all you have to do is prepare the soil, then roll out the seeds mat! Erosion blankets are also good for keeping the weeds from growing, which saves you a lot of time weeding the garden! Another bonus to these, is the roots that the plants form, also helps to keep erosion down.