Compost Filter Socks

A compost sock is a mesh tube filled with composted materials placed perpendicular to sheet-flow runoff to control erosion and retain sediment in disturbed areas. Depending on the particle size of the filter medium within the mesh tube, landscapers and contractors can either use them to reduce heavy flows and trap sediment or to remove pollutants from urban runoff.

Compost filter socks are proven effective at removing gasoline, diesel, and oil residues from runoff. Filter socks come in 5-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch diameters and can either be purchased on pallets or made on site using the mesh tube and a blower truck.

Sediment trap, 12-inch diameter filter socks in pyramid stack

Where to Use Treatment

Use compost socks to manage stormwater, control erosion, and remove pollutants from runoff.  Place on erodible slope faces at regular intervals, at the slope top and toe, and at grade breaks. Align compost socks with the slope contour. Biodegradable socks are available in both 8-inch and 12-inch diameters in cotton, jute, sisal, burlap, wood-based yarn, or coir. Biodegradable compost socks will likely function up to 12 months, depending on climate and weather conditions. 8-inch diameter socks work well on slopes up to 2:1 (H:V). 12-inch diameter compost socks are too heavy for the middle of 2:1 slopes; however, they work well at the toe. Compost socks are typically spaced as follows:

  • 10 feet apart for slopes steeper than 2:1 (horizontal:vertical)
  • 15 feet apart for slopes from 2:1 to 4:1 (horizontal:vertical)
  • 20 feet apart for slopes from 4:1 to 10:1 (horizontal:vertical)
  • 50 feet apart for slopes flatter than 10:1 (horizontal:vertical)

For additional guidance, see the Storm Water Quality Handbook–Project Planning and Design Guide.

Compost filter sock check dam

Benefits of Compost Filter Socks

  • Reduces stormwater runoff velocity so that sediments can settle and be trapped
  • Filters sediments out of stormwater, reducing runoff of sediments and heavy metals
  • Very cost effective per volume of runoff treated
  • Adsorbs contaminants, including oil and gasoline
  • Acts as barrier against development of erosion rills and gullies


  • Some Regional Water Quality Boards may require compost socks to be setback from a water body 303d listed for nutrients.
  • Sock must uniformly contact ground surface for maximum effectiveness.
  • Difficult to install securely on steep or rocky slopes.
  • 12-inch diameter compost socks are limited to being placed at the toe of 2:1 (H:V) slopes.

Plans and Details/Specifications


For more information contact: Organic Materials,