Soil Erosion Solutions for Street Trees
I was delighted when free mulch showed up (and so did a neighbor to help me spread it) after three years of dreaming that someday the bare soil under the Crab Apple trees along 61st Street in SE Portland, Oregon, would be covered. This wonderful little project demonstrates one of many soil erosion solutions for different situations.
Now in that planting strip, Earthworms will loosen the soil and add nutrients, beetles and other beneficial insects will begin to break down the wood chips, more flowers are blooming on the trees, resulting in more fruit, the soil will stay moist during hot weather, and rainwater will soak into the soil instead of run off leaving ruts.
In looking back at the almost magical way this tiny project came together one Saturday, I am always encouraged to find someone in another discipline indirectly discovering basic Permaculture principles. It’s awesome that more and more people in the position to make a difference are starting to get essential soil erosion solution concepts.
If you’re losing topsoil on your property, whether you own or rent a suburban lot or have acreage, you can reclaim your land. It’s simple and, as the following pioneer tells his audience, it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money to do.
Soil Erosion Solutions for Stopping Desertification
Allan Savory got the world speaking the phrase “holistic management’ with his global institute to literally re-cover range and park lands headed for desertification. His version of greening the desert allows ranchers and farmers around the world to embrace a form of Permaculture.
His method is grazing with larger herds of livestock in a way that mimics natural animal herding behavior. The key is to allow the cattle, goats, sheep, etc., to move as they would naturally and in large numbers, without human habits of containing them and reducing their numbers.
The animals move over dry lands, even those with little vegetation, leaving fertilizer and tromping what plants there are. This effectively covers the bare ground.
Why cover the soil, you may be wondering. When soil is compacted, rainwater cannot percolate through it and runs off, taking layers of topsoil with it. The remaining soil is further degraded and cannot hold water, drying out within 24 hours in arid areas after days of rainfall.
One of the basic practices I incorporated for the past nine years with clients in my Permaculture design practice was to cover bare soil with a thick layer of mulch. I witnessed the immediate results, and so did my clients.
While this one man has figured out a system that gets desperate people involved at the brink of total desertification of the land around their farms and villages, anyone can follow the simple practice of covering bare areas of land with plant matter.
Whether you have access to leaf litter in the Fall or chips from tree pruning, if you spread this material over the ground, you will be on your way to reclaim your land.
Soil Erosion Solutions Delivered Free
Programs exist in most cities in America, and probably elsewhere, to have free chips or leaves delivered to your street or driveway. All you have to do to get your hands on this valuable resource is either ask a local tree service or utility or call your city’s parks department. Here is what I did last week on my street.
On a Friday I saw a ‘free mulch’ sign on the side of a chipper truck and asked the workers how to have chips delivered to my street. They took my number down, and when I got home I saw a letter from PGE, my local utility company, that had come in that day’s mail. It said that workers would be in my neighborhood that week to prune trees for electric line clearance and that the mulch was free to anyone who wanted it.
I called the number provided in the letter and was told I needed to order delivery to a driveway, so I thought I would have to give up since the planting strip was far from my apartment. But when the workers called me later that day, as they’d said they would, I hazarded to ask them if street delivery would be okay, and they were fine with it.
All I had was a rake and borrowed wheelbarrow, but I dedicated myself to spend the next day spreading the huge pile of chips.
As I set in to work late Saturday morning, neighbors and passersby commented on how nice the chips smelled.
The work of spreading the pile was going more quickly than I had anticipated, and I began to gain a little more confidence in going out on a limb like I had (pardon the pun). After a while, a neighbor asked if he could help me spread the chips, and I gladly accepted.
Before long, we had the pile whittled down to nothing, and the planting strip looked wonderful. Before application, the ground showed signs of erosion from rainwater not being able to penetrate the dry, compacted soil. The Crab Apple trees appeared dessicated and typically produced smaller flowers and fruits. Following the mulch application, the trees burst into large flowers covering more of the tree and many more and larger fruits. One of the very best and easiest soil erosion solutions is to cover bare ground with thick mulch. Try it in your own neighborhood planting strips!
Here is a link to sign up for free mulch delivery. You can also contact your local utility.