Launch Slideshow

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Blanket protection

Blanket protection

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    After heavy runoff caused disastrous washouts on Beartooth Highway in Montana and Wyoming, crews installed erosion control blankets to prevent the situation from occurring again. Photo: North American Green

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Geotextiles 101

A quick-and-dirty guide to taming dirt and mud

A geotextile is a fabric used to stabilize soil, resist erosion, or foster site drainage. It is made of fibers in either a woven or loose non-woven configuration to form a blanket-like product. The fiber material can be either synthetic, such as polypropylene or polymer, or natural-straw or coconut fiber, for example.

Synthetic products typically offer greater durability than their natural counterparts, but because the natural fabrics are biodegradable, they may be more desirable in applications where wildlife and environmental factors come into play. In addition to varying compositions, a geotextile also consists of one of two structures: woven or nonwoven.

When properly installed on a roadside, they block dirt and silt from washing away or into the road during a storm, inhibit weed growth, and protect the landscape from damage by errant vehicles. Soil migration especially causes concern beyond the aesthetics of a gouged-out roadside; traveling sediment can clog stormwater systems and threaten the environment by entering waterways and harming fish.

Vegetation reinforcement

Vmax3 SC250 permanent turf reinforcement mats have a 3-D matting structure with a straw/coconut fiber matrix that provides long-term erosion protection and turf reinforcement in a range of applications. The manufacturer says the product is easier to install and more affordable than hard-armor alternatives, such as rock or concrete. North American Green. www.nagreen.com.

High-tensile fabrics

Comtrac geotextiles are woven, making them strong, pliable, and resistant to freeze/thaw. Three versions are available: polyester, polypropylene, and a blend of the two. The products enable installers to build stable embankments over even weak foundation soil. Huesker Inc. www.hueskerinc.com.

Embankment protection

Terratex EP is a strong, water-permeable geotextile made of polypropylene monofilaments. It guards against ultraviolet degradation and soil migration, and is designed to meet or exceed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plastic filter fabric specifications. Webtec Inc. www.webtecgeos.com.

Soil stabilization

Belton Industries offers a range of woven fabrics for soil, embankment, and roadway stabilization. The products are made of ultraviolet-resistant, non-degradable polypropylene tapes. Use of the textiles helps extend the life expectancy of both permanent and temporary roadways. Belton Industries Inc. www.beltonindustries.com. >

Steep-slope fabric

Miragrid-XT geotextile fabrics are designed to be placed in layers during construction to prevent erosion. The products' strength increases soil tensile strength, reducing the risk of soil sliding or rotation. According to the company, they cost less than retaining walls and can be installed more rapidly. Mirafi Construction Products. www.mirafi.com.

Erosion control mats

Pyramat erosion control mats offer permanent vegetation reinforcement in slopes and channels. They guard against soil migration and promote rapid vegetation growth, even on sites challenged by sandy soil, ultraviolet exposure, heavy vehicle traffic, and other problems. CONTECH Construction Products Inc. www.contech-cpi.com.

Talking Textiles

Geosynthetics 2007—Jan. 16–19 in Washington, D.C.—delivers information about geotextile use in various applications, including transportation, the environment, and homeland security. The meeting, sponsored by a group of international geosynthetics organizations, includes exhibits and educational seminars about geotextile design, manufacture, and construction. Visit www.geoshow.info.