Erosion Control: Organic Materials Management

Using compost-based erosion control products is a best management practice (BMP), as compost bonds tightly with soil, leaving no gap between soil and cover, which means less opportunity for water to run underneath and undermine the protection. These products are highly effective at removing certain contaminants from runoff, such as oil, diesel and other hydrocarbons.

Types of Products

  • Compost Blanket. A layer of loosely applied compost placed on the soil in disturbed areas to reduce storm water runoff and erosion. It is typically applied using a blower truck, but could be applied by hand. The compost fills in small rills and voids to limit channelized flow, absorb water, and provide a more permeable surface to facilitate storm water infiltration. If rapid revegetation is the goal, gardeners can mix seeds into the compost before application.
  • Compost Filter Sock. A mesh tube filled with composted materials that landscapers can place 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”, 8” and 12” diameters, and can either be purchased on pallets or made on site using the mesh and a blower truck.
  • Mulch. Ground woody materials that are good for protecting relatively flat surfaces from wind and rain. Mulch absorbs some water, and as it breaks down gradually adds organic matter to the soil, increasing storm water infiltration and biological life. On steeper slopes, it may run off with sheet flow. Finely ground mulch can be blown into filter socks and used as a high-flow sediment trap. If used in this way, the mulch should be pathogen reduced first.
  • Living Wall. Vertical spaces covered by live vegetation that are also known as green walls or biowalls. Gardeners can use piles of seeded compost socks retained by wire mesh to create a retaining wall, which then grows plants. These may be placed along creeks to reduce bank erosion, along highways to keep sheet flow and sediments off the road, or even in parks and other applications.

Types of Applications

Highways and Roads

Fire-Damaged Lands. Use of compost products on fire-damaged lands.

Low Impact Development

Construction Sites. State of California Department of Transportation: Construction Site Best Management Practice (BMP).


Research and Case Studies

Product Specifications

For more information contact: Organic Materials,