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Tips for planting vegetation to prevent surface runoff

Rain and strong winds typically cause the top layers of soil to be washed away, affecting the overall quality of soil on your property. Surface runoff occurs after heavy rains or other inclement weather. The good news is that you can minimise the negative effects of surface runoff by planting vegetation. Any exposed surfaces should have some vegetation nearby that helps keep the soil intact. However, you need a strategic approach (when planting) to get meaningful results.

Here are several tips to help you get started.

1. Start by applying a top layer of dense soil

Surface runoff mostly affects light and loosely held soil. Because water and wind are the two main causes of surface runoff, light soils (such as sand) often have their top layers blown or washed away. Not only does this affect plant growth, but it also leads to the pollution of nearby water bodies. You can minimise the extent of surface runoff by applying dense soils on your outdoor space (such as in your garden). Adding a top layer of loamy soils will reduce the amount of surface runoff during any given time.

2. Plant vegetation with deep roots

Adding dense soil is not enough to minimise all surface runoff. You should also plant vegetation that has deep roots. Shrubs and indigenous grass are a good place to start, as both types of plants grow deep into the soil in search of nutrients (especially in dry environments). Plants with deep roots essentially hold the soil together and minimise exposure of top layers to water and wind.

3. Pay attention to sloping areas

If you have a sloping outdoor space, surface runoff can become worse. The force of gravity typically accelerates moving water and wind, which results in more extensive nutrient depletion for your soil. Make sure you plant denser vegetation in sloping terrain and avoid using too much fertiliser during the rainy season. Excess fertiliser can be washed away into nearby bodies of water (which may result in pollution).

4. Trees also help

In addition to binding the soil, vegetation also minimises the direct impact of rainwater. Heavy rains typically dislodge top soil layers as water drops come in contact with the surrounding soil. Planting trees is a useful way of minimising this contact, as incoming drops will first strike leaves and branches before trickling down to the soil itself. 

The above tips will help you maintain healthy soil in your yard or garden during planting season. For more information on landscaping supplies, contact your local landscaping company.