What are the Best Tips for Silt Control?

Marlene Garcia

Silt control can be accomplished by diverting water away from rivers, streams, and storm drains, stabilizing the soil in construction areas, and creating holding ponds to contain sediment. If work is being done near storm drains, they can be temporarily sealed until nearby soil is stabilized. The silt that accumulates can be removed to prevent it from entering the wastewater system. Using mulch and vegetation to hold dirt are other effective silt control measures.

A silt fence may be installed to prevent soil disturbance of an area.
A silt fence may be installed to prevent soil disturbance of an area.

Temporary drains can be constructed to divert run-off water away from areas where soil is loose. They can be made with pipes, tubes, hoses, or other materials so water can flow to vegetated areas less likely to erode. Concrete drains are usually effective on sloped, permanent sites to allow soil and vegetation to remain untouched.

construction companies often use gravel paths to stop vehicles from moving silt offsite.
construction companies often use gravel paths to stop vehicles from moving silt offsite.

On some larger construction sites, silt control is handled by building a silt fence around the perimeter of an area before grading begins. Special mesh material is attached to poles to contain the water run-off and prevent it from traveling into waterways or storm drains. The holding pond can be seeded once the project is complete to stabilize the soil and keep it in place. Construction companies might wash trucks leaving construction areas, or use gravel paths to knock dirt off the tires, to help keep silt on site.

On steep slopes, erosion control blankets might be necessary. These materials are attached to the top of the slope with staples to ensure they remain in place. Sometimes these blankets are used along mountain highways, where deep cuts in the earth are necessary to build the road. They can be purchased in rolls of natural or synthetic fibers and cut to size.

Several methods for silt control can be done by property owners without much effort. If work is done during the dry season, it is less likely that soil will wash away. The disturbed area can be covered with mulch and seeded before the rainy season begins, to allow new plants to grow. Topsoil can also be saved to be put back in areas where work was done to provide nutrients to new seedlings.

When silt control is not used, topsoil displaced by construction or severe weather can pollute waterways and harm aquatic life. Run-off sediment that enters flood control channels can clog the pipes and create flooding to adjacent properties. If too much silt flows into harbors, they sometimes become shallower over time and could eventually become useless.

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Discussion Comments


@talentryto- My grandfather swore by planting willow trees on his property for silt control. Before you plant them, you will need to do a little research about the best type of willow for your property.

Though most willow trees prefer a lot of moisture, some varieties, such as the Scouler willow, will thrive in drier areas. On the other hand, if your slopes are close to lakes or streams, most types of willow trees will work very well for silt control on your property.


I have a friend who planted different types of evergreen shrubs on some hillsides on his property, and they helped control the erosion problem that he was having. Plant them close together along the entire length of your slopes, and I think you will be happy with the results.


I have several steep slopes on my property, and I'm trying to prevent erosion from pushing silt to the bottom of them. I'm looking for some recommendations for the best plants to use for silt control on these slopes.

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