One Year Later

One Year Later

Eroded Streambank

Eroded Streambank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people think mowing their streambank gives their yard a nice, manicured look, but if you continually mow your yard up to and including your streambank, soon you won’t have a yard.  A bare streambank erodes faster than it would if vegetation would be allowed to grow on the bank.  Water-loving, native plants with deep root systems would do the best job.  Once the vegetation is well established it protects your streambank from erosion and it also provides habitat for local wildlife, which can lead to hours of enjoyable critter watching.

After the lawn is mowed some people dump their grass clippings on their streambank, thinking this will help their erosion problem, but grass clippings do nothing to stabilize a streambank.  They get washed away with the first good rain and they actually smother any vegetation growth that would otherwise occur.

In addition to protecting your property, streambank vegetation can also protect your neighbors’ properties by acting like speed bumps to slow down the water from high stream flows causing it to erode less and create less damage downstream.  (Your downstream neighbors will thank you.)

Streambank vegetation also acts like kidneys, removing pollutants from runoff before it enters a stream just like your kidneys remove impurities from your bloodstream.  Just as you wouldn’t even think of getting a healthy set of kidneys removed from your body, streambank vegetation is vital to a healthy stream.  While removing pollutants from runoff, streamside vegetation also reduces the amount of sediment (otherwise known as dirt) entering a stream that smothers fish eggs and habitat for macro-invertebrates (also known as fish food).  Macro-invertebrates are aquatic “bugs” that are one of the main food sources for native fish that support the trout population.

So, streambank vegetation not only keeps your property on your property, it also improves water quality and can provide you with some backyard entertainment.  If you are currently mowing your streambank, think about giving yourself less work to do (and saving gas in your lawnmower) and planting some streambank vegetation.

Another technique often used in conjunction with streambank vegetation is something called rip-rap.  Rip-rap involves scaling back an eroding bank to a 2:1 slope, digging a two foot trench at the toe of the bank, and placing large limestone in the trench and about two-thirds of the way up the newly sloped bank.  Vegetation is then planted on the edge of the bank and at least ten feet out from the edge of the bank (but more is always better).  This technique protects the eroding streambank and allows the new vegetation to grow and establish a healthy root system.

Since 2007 the District has been able to help four homeowners and one township protect their properties (and roads) with this practice.