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Silt Fence Erosion Control

silt fence erosion control

Silt Fence Erosion Control is an important practice in construction and landscaping projects. Setting up a temporary barrier to keep silt, sediment, and debris from entering nearby bodies of water or storm drains.

This practice’s goal is to protect the environment while also following environmental regulations.

Silt fences are becoming increasingly popular due to their effectiveness and low cost in comparison to other erosion control methods.

They are made of Geotextile fabric and are typically used to line the bottom of a slope or the perimeter of a construction site. When properly installed and maintained, silt fences can significantly reduce sediment runoff, a major source of water pollution.

In this article, we will discuss the significance of silt fence erosion control, its benefits, and best practices for installation and maintenance. We will also investigate alternative erosion control methods that can be used in conjunction with silt fences to achieve better results.

erosion control area with warning sign

The Importance of Erosion Control with Silt Fence

Sediment runoff contributes significantly to water pollution, endangering aquatic life and disrupting the natural balance of ecosystems.

Silt fence erosion control is critical in preventing sediment runoff by trapping and filtering the sediment before it enters bodies of water.

This practice also aids in the reduction of soil erosion, which can result in structural damage and costly repairs.

Furthermore, implementing silt fence erosion control measures is required for compliance with environmental regulations.

Many countries have stringent laws in place to protect their water resources from pollution, and failure to comply can result in large fines and legal ramifications.

Silt fences are a simple and effective way to comply with these regulations while also ensuring environmental sustainability.

How Does It Work?

Silt fences work by slowing the flow of water and trapping sediment particles to keep them from entering bodies of water.

Silt fences use Geotextile fabric that is specially designed to allow water to pass through while retaining sediment. The fence should be installed at an angle to the slope, with the bottom edge buried and the top edge exposed.

As water flows down the slope, the silt fence intercepts it and directs it to a sediment basin or other erosion control measures.

The fence’s fabric acts as a filter, trapping sediment particles while allowing clean water through.

Regular maintenance is essential for silt fences to function properly, as clogged or damaged fences can no longer effectively prevent sediment runoff.

For even better results, silt fences can be combined with other erosion control methods such as sediment traps, check dams, and vegetative buffers.

silt fence for construction

The Advantages of Silt Fence Erosion Control

Aside from preventing sediment runoff, silt fence erosion control has a number of other advantages. These are some examples:

  • Cost-effective: Silt fences are relatively inexpensive when compared to other methods such as retaining walls or sediment ponds.
  • Easy installation: Silt fences are simple to install and do not require specialized equipment or extensive labor.
  • Versatile: They are versatile erosion control solutions because they can be used in a variety of terrains and construction sites.
  • Minimal maintenance: Silt fences require minimal maintenance with proper installation and regular inspection, lowering long-term costs.
  • Eco-friendly: Silt fences are environmentally friendly because they are made of biodegradable materials and can be easily disposed of after use.

Best Practices for Installation and Maintenance

The effectiveness of silt fence erosion control is dependent on proper installation and maintenance. The following are some best practices to follow:

  • Preparation: Before installing the silt fence, clear the area of any debris or obstructions that may interfere with its placement.
  • Placement: Silt fences should be installed perpendicular to the slope and at least one foot below ground level.
  • Anchoring: To keep the silt fence from shifting, use wooden stakes or steel posts along the bottom edge.
  • Inspection: A regular inspection is required to ensure that the silt fence is in good working order. Any damage should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Maintenance: Silt fences should be maintained on a regular basis by removing accumulated sediment and debris to prevent clogging.
  • Replacement: Silt fences have a limited lifespan and should be replaced as soon as they become damaged or worn out.

Alternative Erosion Control Methods

While silt fence erosion control is effective, it may not be appropriate in all situations. In some cases, combining other methods with silt fences can produce better results. These are some examples:

  • Vegetation: Planting vegetation, such as grass or shrubs, can help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
  • Mulching: Mulching with straw or wood chips can also aid in preventing soil erosion.
  • Terracing: Creating terraces on steep slopes can effectively control erosion by slowing down water flow.
  • Sediment ponds: Constructing sediment ponds can capture and store sediment, preventing it from entering water bodies.
  • Geotextile mats: Geotextile mats can be used in place of silt fences to provide a more robust barrier against sediment runoff.
silt cloth prevents erosion control

Tips for Choosing the Right Erosion Control Method

Choosing the right erosion control method depends on various factors, such as site conditions, budget, and effectiveness. Some tips to keep in mind when selecting a method are:

  • Consult with experts: It’s always best to consult with experienced erosion control professionals to assess your site’s specific needs.
  • Consider the terrain: Different methods may be more suitable for different terrains. Consider factors such as slope, soil type, and water flow when deciding on a method.
  • Balance cost and effectiveness: While some methods may be more effective, they may also come at a higher cost. Evaluate your budget and consider the long-term maintenance costs before making a decision.
  • Monitor results: Regularly monitor the effectiveness of your chosen erosion control method to ensure it is adequately protecting your site from sediment runoff.
  • Stay up-to-date: It’s essential to stay updated on the latest erosion control methods and technologies to ensure the most effective solution for your site.

How Much Does Silt Fence Erosion Control Cost?

The cost of silt fence erosion control varies according to factors such as fence length, site conditions, and any additional measures used.

Silt fence installation can cost between $1 and $3 per linear foot on average. This cost, however, may rise if more labor or materials are required.

Other methods, such as sediment ponds or retaining walls, can be significantly more expensive, making silt fences a more cost-effective option.

Finally, the cost will be determined by the specific needs of your site and should be evaluated with the assistance of erosion control professionals.


Does silt fence erosion control work on all types of land?

You can use silt fences on most types of land, but they might not work as well on steep slopes or where there is a lot of water flow.

It may be necessary to take extra steps like using sediment traps or retention walls in these situations.

How often should you check on and fix a silt fence?

Regular maintenance and inspection are necessary for silt fences to work. Inspecting and maintaining it might be necessary every few weeks or months, depending on the state of the site.

Can I reuse a silt fence after removing it from one site?

There is no way to use a silt fence more than once.

Reusing them can damage them and make them less effective at stopping sediment from running off. The dirt that got caught in the fence might also have pollutants in it that could hurt other places if it was used again.

Throw away old silt fences in the right way, and for every erosion control project, get a new one. You can recycle or compost some of the silt fence’s parts, though, so it’s an eco-friendly choice.


An inexpensive, simple, and eco-friendly way to stop sediment from running off is to use a silt fence for erosion control.

It might not work well on all surfaces or in all situations, though. For the best results, it is important to carefully look at what the site needs and think about other options besides silt fences.

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