The early summer of 2023 brought with it some of the most consistent and torrential rains that north Georgia witnessed in some time.

While it’s nice that homeowners don’t have to worry about watering their lawns and gardens through this time, the rain also represents a potential problem – and not just by ruining your cookout or suntan.

Constant and driving rain can do much to harm your lawn and garden in the form of erosion. By washing away soil, consistent rains can threaten your lawn, plants, and even trees, all while changing the look of your yard for the worse – not to mention the threat erosion poses to your foundation.

In short, during periods of heavy and constant rains, you should keep an eye out for signs of erosion – and act quickly when and if you do. The good news is that there are steps you can take to counter or halt erosion. In this article we’ll look closer at the signs of erosion, what they mean for you, and how to respond if the rain starts washing your landscaping away.

What exactly is erosion and how does it occur?

Erosion is what happens when soil, rock, or stone detaches from the ground and is moved from its resting spot via water, wind, ice, gravity, or a combination of those elements.

For instance, when the heavy rains we experienced in June pound down on an already soaked lawn, the resulting ponds and runoff can carry away soil from any surface. Water will almost always find the lowest point of any environment it is introduced to. And if your property is on a slope, the odds that you will experience erosion are increased. Even if your lawn appears relatively flat, constant rain will lead to ponds in the lowest points possible. These ponds will gather anything that running water can bring with it – often that includes grass and soil. And if your property is wet enough, a lot of soil may be loosened and taken along for the ride.

Sometimes that means that you’ll lose topsoil. Other times it might remove materials such as mulch and pine straw and pile it up in places you don’t want it.

That is why it is important to give your yard purposeful drainage options, so that water build up runs where you direct it – otherwise it will find a way to do so on its own – and you will likely hate the results.

What does erosion look like?

Depending on how your yard is designed, you should be able to tell if you’re experiencing erosion easy enough.

If you have loose materials such as mulch or bark on your lawn, you may notice after particularly heavy rains that it moves to other locations. Or, if your lawn is sloped, you may even be able to actively witness topsoil or plants being moved and deposited at the bottom of said slope. Otherwise, you may notice a slow change in your landscape over time as your yard wears away.

Other situations to be aware of include:

Bare spots or dead patches – When water washes away plant material it also carries away soil, making it harder for other plants to grow in that spot.

Gullies – Particularly after heavy rains, you may notice where runoff has pushed plants and topsoil aside as it follows the low spots in your yard.

Your foundation – If you see that parts of your foundation are becoming more visible, this could be a severe problem, as this a sign that water is pushing up against your house consistently. Water should always be directed away from your home, as it can find its way inside and create significant damage in the process.

What you can do to stop erosion

There are several steps you may take to stop or slow erosion. Some of these solutions are easier than others, but if you do not have time or the inclination to follow these steps, please contact a professional landscaper and address the issue as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the worse the problem – and perhaps the more expensive the solution.

Address slopes first

If there are any slopes on your property try your best to keep them chock full of plants and groundcover to support the soil located there. It’s difficult to do so in constant rains, so you may need to use netting and fabric to help stabilize this type of topography to keep plants in place until they can root.

Look for these groundcover plants

If you’re trying to counter erosion by planting, these species offer excellent solutions. They have a strong root system and will also deflect some of the rain away from the ground. Groundcover plants worth trying include big blue lilyturf, creeping juniper, creeping phlox, Japanese spurge, mondo grass, ostrich fern, periwinkle, riverbank lupine, rockspray cotoneaster, spotted dead nettle. Any native groundcover plant is worth trying. And plants such as these will help keep your soil stable.

Apply mulch

Mulch can help keep soil in place throughout your yard and even on mild slopes. Make sure to cover the area in question with a thick layer – even as much as 3 inches if using shredded bark – and keep it topped up if some is washed away. You can use a shovel or rake to retrieve it and reestablish it.

Ensure you have proper drainage

Fast-moving water is your biggest enemy. It is the main cause of erosion. Therefore, you need to slow it down or at least guide it via properly installed and maintained drainage solutions. If your problems are significant, you may need to grade your property via machine (such as a “bobcat”), but grading will do much to steady even the worst erosion problem. A French drain, which is placed in the ground and directs water away from your house is also a great idea.

Install hardscapes

Permeable materials such as porous concrete, certain types of pavers, and gravel may allow water to filter through their surfaces and not wash away soil.

Put in retaining walls

These bulwarks are the last and most drastic step in stopping erosion – and they work in even the toughest situations. Designed in a stepped-terraced fashion, these walls can hold back just about all erosion and keep your property stable for years – though you will need a professional to both install them and to have them periodically maintained and checked to ensure their stability.

If you need erosion control help, call a pro

If you noticed parts of your property washing away this summer – or during any other time of year – there are plenty of experienced landscape professionals ready to help. Hughes Turf Management has years of experience in helping to maintain perfect gardens and lawns and is always happy to look at your property and offer solutions.

However, make sure you call a professional at the first obvious signs of erosion, as the more severe the problem, the tougher the solution. So, get on top of your yard erosion concerns as soon as possible and call Hughes Turf Management today to help with your concerns: 678-617-1962.