Even the tiniest raindrop can pound the earth like a hammer, say scientists at Vanderbilt University, who studied the effect of rain on erosion [source: Salisbury]. Erosion occurs when the earth wears away, by wind, ice, or most commonly, water. The more sandy a soil is, the easier it is for any of the elements to make off with it. Clay soils, even with larger material particles, are also easily eroded by water, yet clay appears to be more durable against the wind. Whether it is rampant waters or wind, erosion is more than just disappearing dirt.
Chemicals and fertilizers can leach into other water sources and soil quality is depleted. This addition of pollutants into water sources and other areas is called non-point source pollution, and is virtually impossible to trace back to the main source. Adding organic materials such as mulch, compost, woodchips or jute to your land can help to prevent erosion as well as replenish the important nutrients and minerals that might otherwise leach out of your soil.
Now that you've tested your soil and picked plants with good ground cover, such as shrubs, or native plants with deep-reaching roots, add grass to this combo and you've got your ground covered -- literally.
Vetiver grass has become a global band-aid in the prevention of soil erosion because it will grow in most climates and soils [source: Farm Radio International]. It may take some time to pinpoint the source of erosion, but with these tips in mind, you can beautify your landscape and protect the environment at the same time.
So now you know the ins and outs of landscaping for different types of soil. For more information about landscaping in general, visit the links on the next page.