Most people associate the term soil erosion with vast dust storms blowing up the topsoil and floods sweeping away the topsoil downstream during the summer and spring months. Only a few people realize that the cold winter months may also come with elements that contribute to soil erosion.

Like in the spring and summer months, soil erosion can be a big problem during the winter months. If you are a landscape owner, knowing the cause of soil erosion during the cold months can greatly assist you to plan on how to control erosion so as to minimize the effects of losing all your topsoil.

Top causes of soil erosion during the cold months


Winter winds can blow away unprotected topsoil. During the cold months, soil can become loose due to sudden and extreme changes in temperature. Once the strong winter winds come along, the loose topsoil goes along with them.


Water is the leading agent of soil erosion. Unprotected topsoil will be loosened and then carried away during water runoff. The small rills in the soil will gradually transform into gullies which will accelerate soil erosion.

Controlling soil erosion during the cold months will not only assist in the preservation of the fertile topsoil around your home but also ensure that you have a landscape ready for spring planting.

Here are a few landscaping ideas that will help you to manage erosion during the cold months:

Know the Type of Soil you have in your garden

Knowing the kind of soil in your garden is the first step towards controlling soil erosion. Is it clay, loam, sand, or silt? To know your soil type, simply grab a handful and squeeze it. If it molds like plasticine, this means you have clay soil. If it falls to pieces, however, it is sandy soil. And if you find out that the soil is intermediate, you have loam soil in your garden. Knowing the kind of soil you have in your garden is crucial. It helps you determine the type of landscape design techniques you will need to utilize in preventing erosion.


Mulching often acts as a soil insulator that helps to maintain soil moisture while promoting the growth of grass and plants. It is used as a temporary soil stabilizer. Moreover, with proper application, mulching can help to keep soil in place for a few days.

Depending on the slope grade of your land, you can replace the mulch regularly. Wood chips, straws, leaves, and sawdust make great mulching materials and are easily available for application. Simply spread these materials on the soil, especially around the plants to create a natural blanket of about 2 to 4 inches. This can be one of the most cost-effective ways of preventing erosion during the cold months.

Cover Plants

Plants play a significant role in anchoring the soil against the agents of erosion. Lack of proper cover plants means there is zero binding of the soil to the earth. Planting of quick growing cover plants can help control erosion. To get it right, speak with a residential landscaper about which cover plants can be viable. In Scotts Valley, most gardeners plant flower bulbs during the early winter months to help bind the soil against erosion.

Additionally, cover crops such as cereal rye and hairy vetch are perfect at binding the topsoil. They make it strong preventing it from being eroded by wind and water. Besides, these cover plants also increase the organic matter content and polish the soil structure. In addition, they enhance your topsoil’s fertility.

Winter Weeds

Even though there is a possibility that the weeds will proceed to create various problems like taking over your garden once they are planted, they can be effective in preventing soil erosion. Winter weeds such as bittercress, dandelions, and chickweeds among others can offer a natural winter cover to prevent erosion.

Use of Erosion Control Blankets

These are layers of large mats that are ideal for application on steep slopes where the other erosion solutions can’t be applied. The erosion control blankets not only prevent soil erosion but also offer soil stability. The blankets can also promote vegetative growth.

Since the blankets are anchored into the soil, they provide a more long-term erosion solution as compared to mulch. What’s more, they seem to perform better in controlling soil erosion and need minimum maintenance in any application!


A hydromulch is a spray that controls soil erosion during the cold months. You can apply hydromulch on your naked ground to help keep the topsoil stuck to the earth. You can mix it with the seeds of recommended cover plants and then apply so that the plants can grow to anchor the soil in place. This is ideal if you want a long-term solution to soil erosion. If you just want to control erosion over shorter periods, you don’t have to mix the spray with the seeds. Although the spray is a better option as compared to mulch, it peels off quickly once it rains thus requires a re-application.


In most cases, gardeners and landscapers overlook the essence of controlling soil erosion during the cold months. However, controlling soil erosion can help safeguard soil resources while guaranteeing you a ready landscape for the upcoming planting season.