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Why you need a silt fence and how to install one

In a country like Australia, silt fencing is a critical part of all construction and landscaping projects, especially excavation projects.

A typically dry climate means we increasingly rely on stormwater in urban and urban fringe areas for irrigation and industrial uses – even as a recreational resource for our many lakes and dams. Not to mention the storm water that ends up at our world class beaches. But what does storm water have to do with anything?

When it rains, the rain washes all sorts of things down stormwater drains (the drains on the city and suburban streets). The drains act as a carrier for a significant amount of pollution, collected from private properties, public places, and construction sites.

And while litter is the most visible form of pollution, other contaminants include various sediments and excess nutrients (eg. phosphates and nitrates), organic matter, oil, grease, and residual pesticides and fertilisers.

A silt fence helps to prevent soil, sediment, organic matter and more from entering our waterways and drains. It is used to protect stockpiles of dirt and other organic material from entering our waterways and drains. Building sites and roadworks are common places that would need silt fences on a regular basis.

A build-up of sediments and other contaminants could potentially block stormwater drains, damage aquatic habitats, and affect harbor channels – even create unsafe swimming conditions.

As we already know, a silt fence is incredibly affordable, but it is also highly effective at preventing all of this potential environmental damage. One thing is for sure, a silt fence is definitely cheaper than the costs associated with losing aquatic species and habitats, and unblocking storm water drains.

Simple tips on how to install a silt fence

Here’s a diagram that shows the correct installation of a silt fence:

Note: The wire mesh is not required with AdMerch’s silt fence, as it is made from super tough polypropylene. You may add wire mesh if you wish, as it will provide extra strength, useful if the silt fence will be in use for an extended period of time.
silt-fence-diagram
Image from EPA South Australia

 

Here’s some great general tips for installing silt fences:

  • Silt fences should be installed on a site as early as possible, ideally before excavation or other soil disturbance begins
  • Install a silt fence down-slope from the construction area, always along the contour (curve) of the slope you are protecting – don’t install in straight lines
  • Significant downward slopes should use the curved installation method – refer to the images below
  • Stockpiles of soil and building materials must be contained by a silt fence
  • Leave the silt fence in place until vegetation is established, or sediment is stabilised
  • Silt fencing requires frequent inspections, particularly after each runoff event (storm, rainfall etc.), to check for damage or clogging of the fence by silt and debris
  • Silt fences are best used for sites where the soil disturbance area is up to 0.5 of a hectare
  • On larger projects including agricultural developments, silt fences can still be used – this J-hook model is most effective:

 

                                                    silt fence j-hook                    silt fence j-hook2
Image credits: Thomas Carpenter, CPESC, Carpenter Erosion Control (sourced from EPA best practice guide)

 

If you want a detailed guide on best practice when it comes to silt fences on small to large agricultural developments, check out this best practice guide by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

At just $49.50 plus delivery, AdMerch’s 50 metre silt fence is cheaper than anywhere else online – beating major competitors prices by as much as $20.

And our silt fence is of the highest quality – meeting EPA standards in Australia.

We deliver nationwide – so no matter where you’re from – we have a customised solution for your business or home