Identifying Signs of Erosion

Erosion is a slippery slope, once it starts it’s hard to stop.

Sometimes erosion is easy to spot, like when a large portion of a riverbank slips into the water during a heavy rainstorm. Other times, it can be difficult to notice. However, no matter the season, it is always important to monitor your property for erosion.

There doesn’t have to be large movements of soil for erosion to be taking place. What might seem small or inconsequential can escalate to bigger issues that could become costly to fix. By knowing the signs and being able to identify erosion early, you can save yourself time, headache, and money.

Here are several things to keep an eye out for when inspecting your property for erosion.


Bare soil is never a good sign. Without vegetation and their roots to help lock the soil in place, it is an open sore that rainwater can easily wash away. That sediment will likely end up in our waterways where it doesn’t belong, and you begin losing more and more soil with each rainfall. 


Are the roots around your tree exposed? That is not normal. When erosion exposes tree roots it can impact the health of the tree and lead to disease, insect infestation, or death. Worst case scenario, the tree falls over which could cause injury or property damage and create further erosion problems.  


Are the trees beginning to lean on your hillside? Leaning trees are an easy identifier of erosion. Freeze-thaw action, overland flow, and inadequate soil strength can cause the slow downward motion of soil, called Creep. Creep is a type of erosion that is hard to notice with the naked eye. Leaning trees are a good indicator that Creep is occurring even if you cannot see the soil moving. 


If you live along a waterway, you might notice changes in your shoreline. Is there a noticeable difference from season to season, or even year to year? If your shoreline keeps changing and moving backward, erosion is taking place. 


If you have riprap along your shoreline and you notice movements in the rock or boulder toe, that could be a sign of erosion. Can you see the filter fabric that was installed underneath your riprap? If so, that likely means that water is finding a way underneath the fabric and creating erosion. 

Make sure to routinely inspect your property and keep an eye out for any of these signs of erosion. If you notice erosion taking place it’s important to take steps to mitigate as soon as possible. If not, the longer you wait the harder and more expensive it could be to fix. 

Stay tuned for our next post where we will talk about a few strategies you can use to mitigate erosion on your property.