Soil erosion is an age-long predicament that always shows up whenever humans embark on any land use activity. Whether it is agriculture, construction or gardening, the need to tame erosion is apparent, especially in regions that experience significant precipitation. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that 90% of the world’s topsoil risks erosion by 2050. It is, therefore, the responsibility of those who participate in land use activities to prevent such a mess.
Over the years, people have developed different techniques to deal with this problem. Unfortunately, some of the widely used erosion techniques may not be ideal for gardening. Most gardeners prefer a small-scale approach to erosion control, and this is where the jute mesh comes to play.
The jute mesh is made from the jute plant, a natural fiber-producing plant. The plant is native to India and other parts of Asia, but can be grown in many other regions across the world. Its ability to be turned into long strands of fiber make it stand out in the preparation of fiber ropes. It is also used to make bags and other items that can be woven from fiber.
Also referred to as the hessian mesh, the jute netting can be quite effective in taming erosion. The mesh comes in different dimensions with different mesh opening sizes. The mesh opening size you choose should depend on the scale of erosion in your garden and the extent of the area you intend to cover.
Besides the fact that the jute mesh is available in custom sizes, it is also biodegradable. Gardening is intrinsically about maintaining a sustainable ecosystem. With the jute mesh, you will be using a biodegradable product that will not affect the environment. This mesh is entirely made out of jute fiber, which degrades after some time.
Thanks to the vast benefits of the jute mesh in taming erosion, farmers and policymakers are now adopting it. California specifically encourages the use of jute netting both in farms and gardens to tame erosion. The state says the jute mesh is more affordable compared to its alternatives. It is way cheaper than plastic mesh, although it is also sustainable and biodegradable.
Jute mesh installation steps
Before you acquire your jute mesh, determine the dimensions of the area to be covered. Order a mesh that is slightly larger than the area you intend to fit. Secondly, consider the type of plants available in your garden and the ones you intend to plant. The slitting on the mesh should give you sufficient room to place your plants in the ground.
In case you already have some plants growing in the garden, consider getting a mesh with wide slitting.
You will need the following tools to install a jute mesh:
- – A trowel or shovel to dig trenches
- – A BioPin Applicator
- – U-shaped pins: 300 mm for loose soil, 200 mm for slopes, 150 mm for flat surfaces and 100 mm for solid firm soil
- – Pin driver, preferably a rubber mallet
Step 1: Prepare the land for laying the netting
Get your land ready by tilling it and leveling the surface. Remove any obstacles, such as tree stumps that may get in the way of the mat. It is ideal for laying a jute mat on a fairly flat surface. However, if your garden has mature trees or stumps, you may still wind it around such obstacles.
Step 2: Excavate and pin the mat on one end
Dig a trench at the point where you intend to roll the mat from. A recommended depth of eight inches and width of six inches should be your target. Insert the top edge of your mat in the trench and pin it to the sides using the rubber mallet. Using a shovel, backfill the trench with the soil excavated to hold the net firmly.
Step 3: Roll over the mat and backfill
To lay the rest of the mat, back-roll it over the designated area. You may have to use more than one roll of the jute matting. To lay the next roll, overlap it with the one already laid down. Use some pins to hold the two mats on the ground. Finish rolling the rest of the jute netting and hold it to the ground at the tail end with some pins. You do not need to dig a trench to hold the mat at the tail end.
Step 4: Use plant stabilizer to plant
One key consideration to make when purchasing the jute mat is the nature of your garden and the amount of work you intend to undertake. If you are looking for a mat that will make your installation easier, opt for the slit option. With a slit mat, all you have to do is install and start planting. If it isn’t slit, you need to do the slitting personally.
For non-slit mats, use a pair of scissors to make slits where you intend to plant. Dig a hole in the cut fabric and add about one spoonful of plant stabilizer. The stabilizer will help the plant grow strong and hold firmly to the ground. With that, you will have installed the jute mat and planted your garden.
Disadvantages of a jute mesh
The jute mesh is not without its disadvantages. Despite being eco-friendly and quite affordable, the mat itself is quite weak. It gets even weaker when it stays in the water. If you experience heavy flooding, you may end up getting disappointed by the mesh.
Besides being quite weak compared to other options, it does not have a long lifespan either. Manufacturers of the jute mesh give it a lifespan of between six and 12 months. If you want your mat to last longer, go for a thick one that is more compact as opposed to one with wide mesh boxes.
Some alternatives weigh quite favorably over the jute mesh. The coir mesh, for instance, is stronger, more durable and still biodegradable. However, the coir mesh is way costlier than the jute one. The other option is plastic mesh, which is easily frowned upon for its environmental side effects.
At the end of the day, you should find a solution to your garden erosion. The jute mesh forms an ideal option for most people due to its environmental and cost benefits. Nonetheless, for those who may need a more durable option, consider the coir mesh, as it is slightly stronger. For sustainability purposes, avoid the plastic mesh at all costs.
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