Decorative stones being used in a front yard setting with plants

Landscaping for Water Erosion Control

Jan 13, '20

Most states will experience wetter-than-average conditions over the next few months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While the rainy season means homeowners can spend less time watering their plants, flowers, and lawn, it presents one major disadvantage: water erosion, which can cause your topsoil to deteriorate and result in extensive and expensive soil damage.

If you have a landscape pro at your service, ask him to take preventative measures to combat water erosion. In reality, most homeowners don’t have the luxury of a professional landscaper or would simply prefer to do the work themselves. The good news is that decorative stones, in addition to enhancing the aesthetic beauty of your landscape, can help reduce erosion and irrigation evaporation.

With Online Stone Solutions as your trusted partner, you can quickly learn how to use rocks and stones to prevent or minimize water erosion and protect and preserve your landscape. It’s actually very easy, and best of all, doing it yourself will save you hundreds of dollars.

To avoid any headaches or setbacks, keep these five factors in mind:

1. Size matters

Choosing the right size of rock for erosion control is essential. Larger rocks and stones are much more effective than smaller rocks, because they are less likely to be displaced by fast-moving water. If your area is prone to an influx of high velocity water flow, such as flash flooding, use large boulders that weigh a ton or more. For smaller-scale projects, rocks and aggregate as small as 2 inches should work fine.

2. Get the right shape

In addition to the size of the rocks, shape is also an important factor. Angular or jagged shaped rocks and stones are preferable as they lock together better than rounded stones. Angular rocks also have the benefit of staying in place better on slopes or under fast water flow than rounded rock and are usually better at erosion control.

Angled rocks locking together against plants

3. Placement is key

If your rocks migrate downhill over time, water erosion will reoccur. When placing stones on a slope, start at the bottom of the slope and work toward the top. Similar to installing roofing, this placement technique will help anchor stones in place and minimized and movement. In extreme situations it may be necessary to, set stones in a concrete slurry or have loose aggregates placed in a geogrid.

4. Go Deep!

As a rule of thumb, rocks and stones being used for erosion control should be installed at a greater depth than those being used as decorative ground cover. This will help ensure they remain in place as opposed to migrating downhill. 

5. Be creative

Here are some creative ways to use stones to reduce erosion:

Build a sediment trap
A sediment trap composed of large, heavy rocks (6 to 15 inches in diameter) and aggregate will slow down the runoff of water and help prevent erosion by giving the silt more time to settle.

Build a drainage swale
Build a drainage swale to divert water and protect your landscape. A drainage swale should be from 1 foot to 1-1/2 feet with the side slopes from 2 to 3 feet. Fill your swale with gravel that is at least 2 inches in diameter.

Use Gabion rocks
Gabions are wire mesh mattresses (or baskets) that are filled with rocks and placed in streams to delay incoming water and minimize erosion. They typically range from 6 inches to 18 inches thick, whereas basket gabions are typically 18 inches to 36 inches thick.

Gabion Wall with decorative stones

Create a Rain Garden using river rocks, decorative stones, and boulders interspersed among plants, flowers, and grass.

Proper size, shape, placement, and depth – those are the keys to selecting the right kind of stones for effective erosion control. The rain is coming, so don’t delay. Take a look at our gallery – we have everything you need to get started.