A soil erosion problem has been greatly reduced or eliminated


What is this?

When soil is not held in place by plant roots, water can carry a surprising amount of it off the land into streams and lakes where it causes problems. If you see gullies, channels or other bare soil, in most cases you’re looking at soil erosion. Construction sites and farm fields are notorious for erosion due to the amount of exposed soil. Streambanks and the shorelines of lakes and ponds are also particularly vulnerable. Other sensitive spots include downspouts, sump pump outlets and other areas of concentrated water flow. Any slope with exposed soil is a trouble spot.

How do I do this?

On my own

  1. Some erosion problems are fairly easy to resolve with, for instance, deep-rooted plants, while others are complex. Some even require structural engineering.
    • Much depends upon the type of soil, how steep the land is, the water source and volume, and plants.
    • If a large amount of land drains through your property – especially if it’s in a concentrated channel – you undoubtedly have additional factors to consider.
  2. Start by looking for bare soil and sites of erosion on your property. Shorelines, streambanks and hillsides are particularly vulnerable, but any place with a concentrated flow of water might exhibit erosion, including sump pump outlets and downspouts.
  3. During heavy rain or snowmelt, get your galoshes out and take another look at your property – you will learn quite a bit more about your situation.
  4. Sometimes, the simplest line of defense is to plant native flowers, grasses and/or sedges suitable to your site. You may need to choose species that are able to thrive under both wet and dry conditions, depending on the factors leading to your erosion.
    • Recommended plants for drainage swales include:
      Sweet flag (Acorus calamus)                                 
      Tussock sedge (Carex stricta)
      Fowl manna grass (Glyceria striata)
      Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)                   
      Sweet grass or Vanilla grass (Hierchloe odorata)
      Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
    • Explore this list for shorelines.
    • Explore this resource for ravines.
    • Download this list for slope stabilization.
  5. Consider installing rain gardens and bioswales to reduce the velocity or volume of water flow.
  6. Consider products such as the following:
  7. If the area is sloped and/or seed is used rather than young plants, a cover crop of common oats and/or annual rye can help to quickly stabilize the soil.
  8. Try not to disturb additional ground while installing erosion control features as you may cause even more erosion. Instead, to the degree possible, try to work within the already disturbed channel.

Hire Some Help

  1. Some erosion problems benefit from outside help. Before hiring a company, you might want to touch base with professionals at one of the following:
  2. Some of the companies on our local vendors page are capable of helping with erosion issues.

Why is this important?

When soil washes into waterways, we lose an irreplaceable natural resource and our aquatic ecosystems suffer. Lake County features a watery landscape with many streams, lakes and wetlands that can become overwhelmed by heavy rains or snowmelt. Most of this water historically soaked into the ground but today it’s oftentimes channeled in a concentrated flow into the nearest drainage pipe or ditch. Eroded soils are carried along, causing water pollution.

Illinois is world-famous for its deep, rich soils and here in Lake County we boast a surprisingly large number of soil types. Each one developed under unique conditions and each gave rise to an assemblage of plants and animals well-suited to it. 

Turtles, fish, frogs and other animals cannot see through cloudy water and have problems finding food and avoiding predators. Also, when silt settles out it smothers their eggs. And cloudy water is generally warmer water – and can be too warm for many native species.

If you can reduce the amount of soil washing off your property, water is cleaner and healthier for people, frogs, dragonflies, fish and other beneficial wildlife (many of which eat mosquitoes).


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