Planting gardens reduces landslide risk

Posted Sep 25, 2013 by Tim Sandle
Researchers in Mexico have proposed that if the slopes along roads are converted to monumental gardens this will reduce the number of landslides.
The best types of slopes for controlling landslides and for planting vegetation are rocky ones, according to a new study. This is because the combination of rocks and plants help to retain soil and lower the chance of a mudslide. A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments.
Using computer models, the study has calculated that the rapid seeding of slopes beside roads (what is called 'hydroseeding') can produce rapid effects and this will prevent a number of landslides from occurring. The plan would be to produce a hydroseed kit, containing contains seeds, moisture-retaining substances, adhesives and organic fertilizers. The commitment to organic compounds is designed to reduce the ecological impact from chemical fertilizers. For this, the kits developed by the team are made up of sawdust or moss instead of hydrogels, to help the plant roots to retain moisture; mycorrhizae (fungi that associates with plants and generate a mutually beneficial symbiosis) in place of chemical fertilizers; and a nopal (type of cactus) based polymer to ensure the adhesion of plants to the slopes.
The researchers predict that mass hydroseeding is more effective than using a geogrid (this is polymer mesh that provides reinforcement to the soil). The research was undertaken by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).