Know Your Options for Natural and Synthetic Erosion Control

As rainwater pelts exposed soil at a job site, particularly on hills and slopes, it can cause a great deal of damaging erosion. There are many perimeter control products on the market – including erosion control blankets – designed to address this challenge. The question is, which are the most appropriate for use on a given job site? Is synthetic material more effective than natural fiber? What are some other considerations when using these products?

Erosion: the enemy

Erosion is a daunting problem, not just because it disturbs the land and alters its contours. Washed-out soil particles make their way into lakes, rivers, streams and other aquatic habitats, creating excess turbidity and endangering ecosystems. It’s a matter of first importance that contractors do everything in their power to prevent this process from disrupting the surrounding environment. Failure to control erosion can lead to steep fines and project delays, throwing your job off schedule and out of budget. That hurts a company’s bottom line, as well as its reputation in the community.

For many contractors, natural fiber products are the solutions of choice. The advantage such natural solutions as coir logs have over a simple silt fence is that you can leave the logs behind. They are completely biodegradable and help enrich the soil around them after breaking down. The geotextile silt fence is economical, but requires extra work in deployment, removal, storage and disposal.

Blankets promote stability
Erosion control blankets prevent runoff and allow vegetation to grow up through its fibers, promoting even greater stability for the soil. Your choice of a blanket will depend on several factors, including the time span the mat needs to remain on the site. If you need one to stay in place permanently, consider a UV-stabilized synthetic fiber. Unlike many of the others, this woven product will not break down and return to the soil. For that reason, it is not recommended for environmentally fragile areas, such as wetlands or other areas where wildlife may be affected adversely.

The natural blankets are made of earth-friendly materials. Jute is a strong vegetable fiber easily woven together into ground-stabilization products, while excelsior is made from long, smooth wood slivers. Coir is derived from the fibrous material inside the first shell of a coconut and GEI Works incorporates these materials into various products: mats, logs, blocks, wattles and silt checks.

Different blankets for different conditions

For steep, high-flow areas where you want blankets to remain long-term, there is a semi-permanent coir option that lasts from four to six years. The product keeps critical slopes intact long enough for vegetation to take root and gain a lasting foothold.  

There is also a semi-temporary coir mat that breaks down in nine to 24 months. Made of 70-percent straw and 30-percent coconut fiber, these blankets are stitched between two organic jute nets. For shorter-term control in areas with low slopes, there are models available that break down in only six months; you can choose from jute, straw or excelsior mats.

Best management practices

After selecting the appropriate erosion control blanket for your application, remove rocks, debris and other materials that impede the blanket’s contact with the soil. These mats are not suitable for use in rocky areas. Anchor the blanket to the soil using wire staples as recommended. Avoid use in areas where the vegetation will be subject to mowing, otherwise the mower may contact the staples.

Be sure to inspect the materials during installation and after significant rainfall. Always compact the soil again in areas that have suffered erosion.

Contact us

By determining the right product for the job and installing it properly, you can more successfully slow or stall the pervasive erosion process that afflicts construction sites. Our technical support staff is standing by to help. For more information on our line of erosion control solutions, contact the experts at GEI Works.

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