Identifying & Controlling Erosion in Your Yard

Hillside Landscape with Trees and Flowerbeds

When you’re a homeowner who tends to your own landscape, there are issues you need to be aware of that can damage your lawn and vegetation. If you don’t know how to recognize these problems, you won’t be able to prevent or solve them. Soil erosion is one of the biggest issues you need to be able to identify and address if you want your landscape to thrive.

Flowing water is a powerful thing, and over time it can have a detrimental effect on your landscaping. Sloping sections of land are typically most prone to erosion, but you may notice the effects of surface runoff elsewhere in your yard as well. Let’s go over the signs of soil erosion to be on the lookout for, along with a few methods you can use to control erosion if you spot it.

Signs of Soil Erosion

Exposed Roots & Underlying Materials

When the top layer of soil on your landscape is worn down, things that are supposed to be underneath it become visible. If you see exposed tree and plant roots, new surface rocks, soil of a different shape or density, or other similar changes to your landscape, you likely have an erosion problem.

Bald Spots

The impact of wind or running water on your landscape reduces the quality of your soil. This can cause it to clump together, creating bare patches on your lawn and across your property. You may also notice cracks in your soil as it becomes displaced. Look for built up soil downhill of these bare spots to confirm erosion is the issue.

Failing Plants

Erosion prevents soil from absorbing the nutrients it needs to support vegetation. When plants can’t get nutrients or water from the soil, they won’t be able to grow. Especially if you notice a group of plants in one particular area of your yard failing to thrive, erosion is likely the culprit.

Pooling or Running Water

An obvious sign of erosion is water visibly running through or pooling in your yard. If you have a body of water near your property, such as a creek or stream, look for cracks along the banks. You may notice they are muddier than normal or see water running through them from your land. If you don’t have water near you, you may just notice puddles forming on your landscape where runoff is settling.

Methods for Controlling Soil Erosion

Stone Masonry Wall Design & Construction in Annapolis, MDPlanting

The root systems of plants and trees can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Choose smaller ground cover plants and larger shrubs, whose root systems will spread further underground to different levels of the soil. You should also take care to select plants that can tolerate extra moisture and grow in the conditions of your slope/landscape.


A 2-3-inch layer of mulch is a great way to keep soil in place, more so for gentler slopes or flatter eroded areas. Mulch will protect the soil from wind and water that cause erosion. Shredded bark, wood chips, rocks, gravel, and leaves are all easy and accessible options for mulch.

Retaining Walls

Low stone barriers around flower and plant beds will help support soil and prevent surface runoff. Stone retaining walls are an aesthetically pleasing accent for your landscape anyway. Plus, they’ll allow you more opportunity for planting and curating gardens around your property.

Terraced Gardens

If you’re really ambitious, you can use multiple retaining walls to create attractive terraced flower beds. Terracing can help water soak into the ground by creating plateaus for runoff absorption, preventing it from washing over the rest of your landscape. Terraced gardens are also beautiful and unique property features.

If you’re tired of your landscaping being damaged by erosion, VistaPro Landscape & Design can step in and help. Our grounds management landscaping team can design a landscape that minimizes erosion, tailored to your vision as well as the conditions of your property. We also design and build stone and mortar walls that will not only elevate the look of your yard, but also help control excess runoff.

Contact VistaPro today for the erosion control and other landscaping solutions you need!