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Uses and Benefits of Wattles

Wattles are used for sediment control so that the rate of soil erosion from a construction site is reduced, and stormwater runoff velocity is reduced, all in an effort to promote water quality.

Most commonly, wattles are long, tubular bags filled with a material such as straw, wood mulch, wood and other natural fibers, or synthetic fill material. They typically measure 6”-20” in diameter and come in lengths of up to 25 feet long. They're installed in a shallow trench and secured with stakes, much like silt fences and stakes, at 3- to 5-foot intervals.

They can be arranged in many ways as needed, such as in a line along the perimeter of the construction site, around a drainage outlet, or at the base of a slope. This forms a barrier along the contour (across the slope) to reduce runoff velocity and allow sediment to collect.

How wattles work

Wattles are commonly used as both perimeter and inlet protection. Common applications include maintaining Best Management Practices by preventing runoff from a jobsite. Since wattles prevent sediment from washing away and eventually into waterways, they maintain best management practices by preventing sediment runoff from jobsites. Their tubular shape effectively slows runoff during heavy rainstorms by dissipating the force of the water as it flows through the wattles, trapping sediment in the filling.

Wattles are often used in combination with other erosion control practices, such as silt fences and stakes, to be more effective. These practices can reduce the amount of sediment that leaves a jobsite when used together.

Choosing the correct size and type of wattle

When choosing sediment control methods and types of wattles, you'll need to consider the following factors:

  • The slope of the land
  • The magnitude of potential soil erosion in the area
  • The type of soil
  • The length of time the wattles will be needed
  • The budget

Once you've considered these factors, you can choose the type of wattle that's right for your project.

Wattles come in various shapes and sizes and can be made from different materials.

Biodegradable wattles

Biodegradable wattles can be made from porous, photodegradable plastic, biodegrable burlap, and natural fiber netting. They're typically filled with organic material such as straw, wood mulch, wood fibers, and coconut fiber which can be integrated into the landscape when the project is complete. They're used to protect exposed soil from erosion and help retain moisture. Two common types of biodegradable wattles are:

Coir wattles
This type of wattle is made from coir, or coconut fiber, which is a biodegradable fiber that comes from coconut husks. This fiber is very strong, so it can help hold the wattle in place. Coir wattles are also highly absorbent, making them ideal for use in areas with high rainfall.
Straw wattles
Straw wattles are made from straw or another type of dried plant stalks. They're processed, so they're free of weed seeds and encased in jute, nylon, or other photo- or biodegradable material.
Erosion Control - The Benefits of Wattles

Straw wattles are effective in controlling sediment runoff and reducing the loss of soil from jobsites. They can also reduce stormwater runoff velocity, all in an effort to promote water quality.

When installed correctly, they can last several years.

Synthetic wattles

Synthetic wattles are made from materials such as polypropylene or polyester and covered with woven geotextiles. Since these are non-biodegradable, synthetic wattles are usually reusable for a long time, even on different jobsites.

Benefits of wattles

Wattles are an essential tool that helps protect the environment and ensure your project is completed successfully. They conserve soil on jobsites by controlling sediment loss. They also filter water before it reaches storm drains and natural bodies of water, plus they maintain moisture to encourage plant growth that further reduces soil loss. 

When you use wattles in your construction project, you stand to benefit in several ways. Some of the benefits of using wattles include:

Controls sediment runoff

When water flows through wattles, sediment is left behind and also trapped inside. Sediment control prevents sediment from leaving the site and causing environmental damage.

Erosion Control - Uses and Benefits of Wattles

Reduces storm water velocity
As water flows through wattles, its velocity is reduced. This is important for preventing erosion and protecting downstream waterways from sediment pollution.

Reusable and easily relocated
Synthetic wattles are designed to be portable and reusable. You can move these wattles from one jobsite and use them at another. This makes wattles a cost-effective solution for sediment control.

High visibility
Some wattles are designed to be visible, making them ideal for construction projects. Due to their high visibility, wattles can be used to mark the perimeter of a jobsite. This helps to keep people safe during construction.
Flexible straps for easy handling

Some wattles come with flexible straps that make them easy to handle. This makes them easy to install and move wattles around the jobsite.


Why Erosion Control?

Erosion control is essential for the protection of the environment and the safety of your construction project. Wattles are a great option if you're looking for an easy and effective way to control sediment.

Check out these links for more information on Erosion Control and Geosynthetic Solutions

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