04 July 2022

Why do we plant?

Submitted by Steven J Brown
Why do we plant?

For starters, it goes without saying that plants provide us with food, fibre, shelter, medicine, and fuel. The basic food for all organisms is produced by green plants. In the process of food production, oxygen is released. This oxygen, which we obtain from the air we breathe, is essential to life also, they absorb much of the water in soil. This effect ultimately makes it harder for water to wash away soil. They also help reduce erosion in many other ways, such as breaking the wind that may blow topsoil away.

Erosive force occurs when the top layer of soil detaches, due to wind or water. The choice of plants with strong roots in areas where the soil is crucial to the viability is key! And bountiful for you and embankments, there are several things you can certainly try to channel and the technique involves planting alternating strips of row crops establishes root systems. 

The team from Granny Mouse Country House & Spa have some thoughts and observations worth sharing when it comes to plants & walls!

Planting vegetation is one of the easiest natural ways to prevent erosion. Mulching (a material, such as straw or bark, spread over the ground to protect the roots of plants from heat or cold, to keep soil moist, and to control weeds) is an effective technique that enriches the soil and prevents erosion. Retaining walls, interlocking concrete blocks, rock retaining walls, riprap (loose rock) areas and terracing. If you have wood, just make sure that the wood is treated with a wood preservative to prevent rotting, and ultimately any additional problems.

The issue of retaining walls is quite common, but in extreme flooding some walls did not handle the force of the water. Another thing to remember is that retaining walls are generally not covered by insurance, which is somewhat of a burden. To explain further, a retaining wall is any wall serving the purpose of holding back soil or other material on one side of the wall, i.e. where the ground or surface levels on either side of the wall differ in height.

Retaining walls are typically constructed as a sheer vertical wall or a block wall. By virtue of their nature and purpose, retaining walls are subject to different influences and pressures when compared with other walls such as boundary or load-bearing walls. As such, a specialised design and criteria apply when erecting a retaining wall. These criteria are determined and approved by experienced engineers to ensure the wall will meet the requirements of a particular environment.

It is not uncommon to see a boundary wall become a retaining wall due to changes within the environment surrounding the wall. At best, such a situation is an accident waiting to happen.

In terms of homes and buildings combined insurance cover for retaining walls under the storm, wind, water, hail, snow peril is specifically excluded. Due to the nature of retaining walls, the underwriter requires qualified intervention before cover will be granted. As such, the insurer will require an engineer’s stability report before they will agree to issue cover. When cover is issued, it is noted separately on the policy documentation with its own insured value, and will most certainly be subject to an additional premium.

While many insurers require the re-submission of an engineer’s report prior to issuing cover for each new period of insurance, some insurers may only require this every few years. It is vital that clients check the insurers’ requirements each year to ensure their cover is correctly renewed and not compromised.

Getting back to steep banks…If you have these, then planting grass and shrubs is very effective in stopping soil erosion. Another idea is to build terraces, or even create diversions to help with drainage of water.

Tree roots turn soil into a type of reinforced dirt to prevent soil erosion. They definitely help prepare for natural circumstances such as wind, water and floods. Grass, in non-vegetative areas, is an excellent way to control erosion, as their root systems stabilize the soil and the turf protects the topsoil.

Consult with your local nursery to find the right plants for the right place. Also, try keep your lawn healthy and don’t mow it down to the root. Recycle your yard waste and look at reducing stormwater runoffs. Do your bit to prevent soil erosion where ever you can.

Inspired by: https://www.arc.agric.za/ & https://www.arc.agric.za/Agricultural Sector News/Simple solutions to combat soil erosion.pdf]

Published in Agricultural