Erosion Control - Mulching


Mulching is a temporary erosion control practice in which materials such as grass, hay, wood chips, wood fibers, straw, or gravel are placed on exposed or recently planted soil surfaces. Mulching is highly recommended as a stabilization method and is most effective when used in combination with vegetation establishment. Mulching can stabilize soils, and reduce storm water runoff velocity. Listed below are tips for mulching and types of materials to use.

Straw Material

Straw has a rate per acre of one to two tons. Straw mulch should be dry, unchopped, and unweathered. It is important to avoid weeds. When mulching, spread by hand or machine. Light material like straw needs to be anchored down. This can be accomplished by applying a tackifier, stapling netting over the top, or crimping with a mulch crimping tool.

Wood Fiber or Wood Cellulose

Wood materials have a rate per acre of one half to one tons. There are not any specific requirements wood materials have to meet. Use a hydroseeder with wood fiber or cellulose. Make sure wood materials are free of any loose substances. Do not use wood in hot, dry weather.


Wood Chips

Wood chips have a rate per acre of five to six tons. You should air dry and add fertilizer to wood chips. Look at the fertilizer and make sure it is 12 pounds per ton. When applying wood chips, use with a blower, chop handler, or by hand. Wood chips are not for fine turf areas.  


Bark has a rate per acre of 35 yards. Bark should be air dried. When applying bark, do so with a mulch blower, chip handler, or by hand. Do not use asphalt tack to anchor down the bark.

Helpful Tips

Mulches must be anchored to resist wind displacement. Netting should be removed when protection is no longer needed and disposed of in a landfill or composted. Mulch areas should be inspected regularly to identify areas where mulch has loosened or been removed. Inspections should be routine until vegetation is firmly established.