How to Prevent Soil Erosion Using Trees

Sun rays shining through a beautiful tree

Soil erosion is the natural displacement of the top layer of soil, usually caused by water, air, or in the case of farming, tilling the land. This can create a multitude of problems for future vegetation and even lead to further, more advanced, soil erosion. This is especially troubling for homeowners’ whose land can no longer support vegetation due to the effects of severe runoff, and ultimately a loss of their landscape. However, there are various ways to help prevent and remedy soil erosion. Trees are one of the most natural methods. Here’s how to prevent soil erosion using trees.

Trees have various properties that will help deter soil erosion, including their expansive root system, large canopies, and their transpiration process.

Root System

Tree Root System

A tree’s large root system acts as a bind toward any loose soil surrounding the tree. The roots hold the soil in place while stabilizing the tree and improving the drainage of the soil, so that water drains into the ground rather than flowing atop the surface. This also helps to prevent soil compaction, in which soil under the surface compacts and hardens, reducing water infiltration and increasing runoff.


Large canopy of tall trees with sun shining through

The large canopies of many trees help to prevent soil erosion by reducing the impact of rain onto the ground. The water drains down the leaves and branches and soaks into the soil rather than forcefully hitting the ground, which decreases the amount of soil that is washed away with the rain.

The large canopies also help to break the force of the wind and limit the amount of soil that is carried away with it. These effects are more effective in large groupings of trees.


Transpiration is the process in which water moves throughout plants, sending water up the roots, through the stems, and out the leaves. Transpiration keeps the soil from getting too wet and heavy, preventing runoff and helping the roots to bind the soil into place.

There are a number of trees that can help to prevent soil erosion. Whether your landscape has a hillside, acidic soil, issues with excess moisture or drought from compaction, there are many varieties of trees that can help prevent erosion.

Trees Good for Hillsides and Slopes

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir Tree perfectly trimmed

A tall, pyramidal evergreen tree with emerald needles.

White Oak

A tall, round stately tree with vibrant red leaves in the Fall.

Black Cherry

A tree that flowers in the Spring then develops dark purple berries during Summer.

Trees That Tolerate Clay, Sandy, and Acidic Soil

Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple Tree

Both a shade and ornamental tree it has a large canopy and grows to a height of 60 to 75 feet.

River Birch

Produces green, glossy leaves and has a cinnamon colored bark that curls and peels.

Black Walnut

Yields a nut crop in late autumn and has an extreme deep root system.

Trees That Tolerate Dry Soil


A fast growing tree that produces a large and eatable fruit; it’s leaves turn golden in the Fall.

Red Oak

Red Oaks Lining Street

NJ’s state tree which grows more than two feet per year for 10 years and provides amazing Fall color to any landscape with its bright red foliage.

Eastern Redbud

Cardinal on a tree branch with pink buds

Heart-shaped leaves that are reddish in color during Spring and turn yellow in the Fall. This tree also produces rosy pink flowers in early Spring

Trees That Tolerate Wet Soil


Grows in a pyramidal shape in its youth then an oblong-oval to rounded shape at maturity. This tree is easier than many other types to transplant.


Closeup of sweetgum leaves

This tree needs plenty of space for root development. It produces star-shaped leaves and brilliant fall colors of yellow, orange, red and purple.

Utilizing trees to prevent and repair soil erosion is an environmentally friendly and productive technique. This method will add beauty and value to your property while remedying your issues with erosion. For more information about controlling soil erosion in your landscape with trees, contact us today!

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