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What Are the Best Trees to Plant to Prevent Erosion?


Soil erosion is a matter of global concern since it results in massive soil degradation. Moreover, the slow rate of topsoil renewal is worrisome—erosion causes the topsoil to run off, and it’s estimated that only 2.5 cm of topsoil grows after 500 years. The presence of adequate trees in the ground is one of the most effective ways to combat soil erosion. Surface runoff by water, a cause of soil erosion, can be stopped right in its tracks by planting more trees. The roots of the trees are particularly helpful in ensuring that the soil stays bound to the land and reacts better during heavy rainfalls. However, not all trees are suitable for preventing soil erosion. That’s why our experienced arborists at Mr. Tree recommend planting these best trees to prevent erosion:

1. Douglas Fir

Apart from making great Christmas trees, Douglas fir, the state tree of Oregon since 1936, is an excellent option for erosion control. Like water, heavy winds can also result in soil erosion. Douglas fir serves as a windbreak. The branches slow the speed of the blowing wind, which protects the soil underneath. Douglas fir can also be used for restoring eroded lands.

While Douglas fir can adapt to a wide range of soil types, they grow best in loamy soil that’s moist and well-drained. It’s ideal to plant Douglas fir in a shady area—part shade or full shade works fine. During summer, the tree requires moderate watering. It also needs excellent drainage to grow properly. Timely pruning helps to keep the tree in proper shape.

2. Western Red Cedar

This slow-growing tree has erosion control potential provided it has exposure to full sunlight. The extensive root mass of western red cedar prevents the topsoil from flowing away with water.

This tree grows best in cool and moist habitats. The foliage is dense, glossy, and aromatic. Western red cedar can adapt to a variety of soils, including soil with poor nutrient content. However, it grows best in well-drained and moist soils. Since it can grow really tall, it’s an excellent option for privacy screening in your yard. The tree has moderate watering requirements and needs pruning twice a year to maintain its natural conical shape.

3. Pacific Crabapple

Since this tree thrives in moist soil, the strong roots are perfect for holding soil in place. Pacific crabapple trees require minimum watering during the summer months. They also require full sunlight for optimum growth. Once they grow fully, they can thrive with minimum maintenance.

This tree can grow as tall as 30 feet if left unpruned. However, a perfectly pruned Pacific crabapple in your yard is bound to grab the attention of the onlookers. This tree is commonly used for stabilizing the banks near streams or ponds. While your yard may not have a pond, this tree is still a lovely addition, as it attracts a lot of birds that enjoy the native fruits.

4. Red Alder

This is a fast-growing tree that can be beneficial in controlling soil erosion. In fact, it’s used for the re-establishment of woodlands. The dense canopy and thick litter are useful in preventing runoffs.

Planting red alder in your yard can also improve the soil quality, thanks to the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that resides in this tree’s roots. Red alder trees thrive in moist surroundings and well-drained soil. Exposure to full sun can be helpful for faster growth. Regular pruning can maintain a natural shape.

5. Shore Pine

Extremely adaptable to the Pacific Northwest, shore pine has deep roots that can prevent soil erosion. This coniferous tree can grow in any type of soil, including rocky and infertile soil. The presence of well-drained soil ensures that the tree grows upright.

Shore pine is a drought-tolerant tree. It grows best in full to partial sunlight. It makes an excellent yard tree, thanks to its unique shape. Shore pine trees grow pretty fast and can reach between 25 and 35 feet. However, proper pruning can prevent the tree from becoming too large if you prefer a smaller tree. Pruning also reduces the safety hazards and allows you to use the tree as a privacy screen in the yard.

6. Black Hawthorn

This tree is commonly used for stabilizing the soil along ditches and highways. As it can easily adapt to different soil types and has spreading roots, it can resist erosion.

Black hawthorn thrives best in deep, moist, and finely textured soils. It also enjoys full sunlight and grows up to 35 feet. The leaves are dark green and shiny, with a serrated tip. Pruning is recommended during the winter season to remove the weak branches and allow more sunlight to pour in.

7. Bitter Cherry

This deciduous tree is one of the most resilient trees found in Oregon. Bitter cherry is used for stabilizing the soil and reducing erosion near streams. It can be as tall as 30 feet and grows well in moist areas. It also prefers full sunlight.

Bitter cherry trees have oblong leaves and very fragrant flowers. The flowers transform into dark purple berries that attract birds and small mammals. The tree doesn’t require too much maintenance, making it a perfect addition to your small yard.

Soil erosion has a direct impact on the fertility of the soil. Less fertile soil can result in a lower yield of crops. Moreover, the soil displacement can result in vast deposits of sediment in water bodies, increasing the chances of flooding. We recommend planting a tree from this list of best trees to prevent erosion.

If you have more questions regarding soil erosion or want someone to take care of pruning your trees at regular intervals, it’s time to reach out to Mr. Tree. We are a one-stop destination for all your tree servicing needs in Oregon. Our certified arborists come armed with years of knowledge and experience to take care of all your tree needs, including pruning and trimming. So reach out to us today, and let’s chat about the services you need.