Keeping Your Soil From Washing Away is a Good Idea, Even If Not Required by Code
For the most part you’re going to fall back on using silt fencing to control erosion and runoff around your building site. Silt fence is low profile geotextile (a lot like polyethylene tarp material) fabric strung between wooden stakes. Very flexible and easy to contour to the land.
I agree it’s a double edged sword in having to use silt fence. On the one hand it helps prevent erosion of your soil, on the other it’s a product that’s petroleum based and can’t readily be reused for something else when you take it out. Well, the stakes could at least be used for firewood. But, the plastic based fabric can’t really be used for much else. If you have some ideas on how to reuse this fabric please drop me a line, and I can post it here.
Erosion Control on a Steep Slope
This kind of silt fencing is a kind of mesh tube stuffed with straw, then kept in place with wooden stakes. Erosion control is definitely needed on a slope like this.
This location is next to a road way (road is at the top of the hill) where it’s important to keep the soil from slipping away from under the road.
Another option (I believe this would still meet code) is using straw bales staked down with wooden stakes. You don’t see this much anymore, probably because of the hassle of dealing with heavy bales, and then having to remove soggy bales when the project is done. On the other hand it’s a biodegradable product. And you certainly don’t need the kind of high-quality (and expensive) straw bales you need for straw bale construction, making it a fairly economical option.
In the end the building department will probably require you to use silt fencing anyway. If your building site is virtually level you may be able to convince your building inspector that it’s really not necessary.
Fortunately, that’s what I was able to do with our building plot. On one of his initial inspections I was able to convince him that the rainwater really wasn’t going anywhere. Being on the property in person he could see that that was the case and agreed to not have me install it.
More Pictures of Erosion Control
The lighting isn’t the best, buy you can see how the rows
have been placed perpendicular to the flow of water.
Here’s a couple straw bales, staked down, that have been placed in the ditch to help control erosion there.
This is the common geotextile silt fencing you can buy at most building supply stores. The ground is also covered with a loose mesh and a bit of straw. Annual rye is often seeded in a place like this to provide quick plant growth and erosion control.