Protect Your Construction Site with the Best Silt Fence

Silt fencing is a crucial component in managing sediment and erosion at construction sites. This essential barrier protects the surrounding environment from the adverse effects of construction activities. In this article, we will discuss the importance of silt fencing for construction sites, its various types, and how to select, install, and maintain this indispensable erosion control measure.

What Is a Silt Fence?

A silt fence is a temporary, permeable barrier constructed from geotextile fabric that helps prevent sediment runoff and soil erosion at construction sites. It serves as a sediment control measure by slowing down water flow, allowing sediment to settle out of the stormwater runoff.

There are various types of silt fences designed to cater to specific site conditions. Some common types include:

  1. Prefabricated Silt Fences

    These are ready-to-install fences made of woven or non-woven geotextile fabric and attached to wooden or metal stakes.

  2. Wire-Backed Silt Fences

    These fences feature a layer of geotextile fabric supported by wire mesh for added strength and durability.

  3. Super Silt Fences

    These are heavy-duty silt fences consisting of chain-link fencing and geotextile fabric designed for high sediment loads and challenging site conditions.

Silt fencing for construction sites works by creating a physical barrier that slows down water flow and allows sediment to settle. The geotextile fabric filters sediment-laden runoff, capturing sediment particles while allowing water to pass through. This process effectively reduces sedimentation and erosion on construction sites.

Why Is a Silt Fence Necessary?

Silt fences play a vital role in controlling sediment and erosion on construction sites. They protect surrounding areas, such as streams, rivers, and lakes, from sediment pollution, safeguarding local ecosystems and water quality.

Soil erosion and sedimentation can cause significant environmental damage, such as increased turbidity, reduced light penetration, and harm to aquatic habitats. Silt fences help mitigate these impacts by filtering sediment-laden runoff. Moreover, they prevent sediment from clogging storm drains, which can lead to flooding and additional project costs.

Many jurisdictions require the use of silt fences and other erosion control measures on construction sites to comply with local, state, and federal regulations. Non-compliance can result in fines and penalties.

Choosing the Best Silt Fence

Selecting the most appropriate silt fence for your construction site is essential to ensure effective sediment control and compliance with regulations. Consider the following factors when choosing a silt fence:

Site Conditions

Assess the site’s topography, drainage patterns, soil type, and existing vegetation to determine which type of silt fence is best suited for the specific conditions. Choosing the wrong silt fence for your site can result in reduced effectiveness, leading to sedimentation and erosion issues that could damage nearby water bodies or infrastructure.

Sediment Load

Consider the anticipated sediment load on the construction site when selecting a silt fence. Sites with high sediment loads may require more robust silt fence designs, such as wire-backed or super silt fences, to effectively control sediment runoff. Failing to account for sediment load can lead to fence failure, resulting in non-compliance with regulations and potential environmental damage.


Evaluate the expected lifespan and durability of the silt fence materials. High-quality geotextile fabrics and sturdy fence posts can increase the overall effectiveness and longevity of the silt fence. Neglecting to consider durability may result in the need for frequent repairs or replacements, increasing project costs and the likelihood of sediment control failures.

Ease of Installation

Consider the ease of installation for the silt fence. Prefabricated silt fences and those with simple installation processes can save time and labor costs on the construction site. Complicated installation processes can result in improper setup, compromising the fence’s effectiveness in controlling sediment runoff.

Maintenance Requirements

Assess the maintenance needs of the silt fence, including the frequency of inspections, sediment removal, and repairs. Silt fences with lower maintenance requirements can help reduce long-term costs and ensure consistent sediment control performance. Overlooking maintenance requirements can lead to fence deterioration, decreasing its effectiveness and increasing the risk of regulatory non-compliance.


Compare the costs of various silt fence options, including material, installation, and maintenance expenses. While it’s essential to choose a cost-effective solution, opting for the cheapest option without considering other factors may result in compromised sediment control and higher long-term costs due to repairs or replacements.

Understanding the specific soil types on your construction site is essential when selecting the right silt fence material. Choosing a material that is not well-suited to the soil type may result in reduced sediment control effectiveness and potential environmental impacts. By carefully considering these cost factors, you can choose the most appropriate and cost-effective silt fence solution for your construction site.

Installing a Silt Fence

Prior to installing silt fencing for construction sites, assess the site’s topography, drainage patterns, and other factors to determine the most effective placement.

Essential tools for silt fence installation include shovels, post drivers, measuring tapes, and utility knives. Additionally, you may need equipment such as a trencher, skid steer, or backhoe for larger installations. Here are the steps for installing a silt fence:

  1. Excavate a trench along the proposed fence line.
  2. Install silt fence posts at regular intervals.
  3. Attach the geotextile fabric to the posts.
  4. Backfill the trench and compact the soil to secure the fence.

While this guide provides a comprehensive overview of silt fence installation, it’s crucial to recognize the expertise and experience required to ensure effective sediment control on construction sites. Partnering with a knowledgeable contractor like The Bag Lady can help guarantee the appropriate silt fencing choice, proper installation, and maintenance for optimal erosion and sediment management.

Maintaining a Silt Fence

Regular inspection and maintenance of silt fences are crucial for their effectiveness. Maintenance includes removing accumulated sediment, repairing damaged sections, and ensuring proper drainage.

Repair damaged silt fences promptly by patching holes, reattaching fabric to posts, or replacing damaged sections as needed. If a silt fence is beyond repair, replace it with a new fence to ensure continued sediment control.

Removing a Silt Fence

Silt fences should be removed when they are no longer necessary for sediment control. This may occur when:

  1. The construction project is completed, and the site has been stabilized with vegetation or other erosion control measures.
  2. The silt fence has reached the end of its useful life or is no longer effective due to damage or wear.
  3. Regulatory requirements mandate the removal of the silt fence.

Disposing of the Silt Fence

Proper disposal of the silt fence is essential to prevent environmental contamination and comply with waste disposal regulations. Dispose of the silt fence materials according to local guidelines, which may include:

  1. Recycling

    Some geotextile fabrics and fence posts can be recycled, reducing waste and environmental impact.

  2. Landfill

    Non-recyclable materials, such as damaged geotextile fabrics or wooden posts, may need to be disposed of in a landfill.

Always consult local waste disposal guidelines and regulations to ensure proper disposal of silt fence materials.

Silt Fence Regulations

Understanding and complying with local and federal regulations is critical when installing and maintaining silt fences on construction sites. In Washington State, silt fencing regulations fall under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Department of Ecology and local government agencies.

Some common regulatory violations related to silt fencing include:

  1. Improper installation

    Failing to install the silt fence according to the manufacturer’s specifications or the SWPPP may result in fines or penalties.

  2. Inadequate maintenance

    Neglecting to maintain the silt fence, such as not removing accumulated sediment or repairing damages, can lead to regulatory violations.

  3. Failure to remove the silt fence

    Not removing the silt fence upon project completion or when it is no longer necessary for sediment control may also result in fines or penalties.

Construction projects that disturb one or more acres of land must obtain a Construction Stormwater General Permit. This permit requires the development and implementation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which details the erosion and sediment control measures, including the use of silt fencing. Smaller projects may also require permits and SWPPPs, depending on local regulations.

Silt Fence Inspection

Regular silt fence inspections are vital for ensuring the effectiveness of the sediment control measure and compliance with regulations.

Frequent inspections can help identify potential issues, such as damage, wear, or inadequate sediment control before they escalate into more significant problems or regulatory violations. Inspections also help ensure the silt fence is functioning as intended and that the SWPPP is being followed. During a silt fence inspection, look for the following:

  1. Damage to the geotextile fabric

    Check for tears, holes, or fraying that may compromise the fence’s effectiveness.

  2. Sediment buildup

    Inspect the fence for accumulated sediment and remove it if necessary to prevent overflow or undermining.

  3. Post stability

    Ensure the fence posts are securely anchored in the ground and in good condition.

  4. Erosion around the fence

    Look for signs of erosion or water bypassing the fence, indicating the need for additional sediment control measures or fence repair.

Document inspection findings, including any issues identified and actions taken to address them. Keep records of these inspections as part of the SWPPP to demonstrate compliance with permit requirements and regulatory guidelines.

Choosing a Silt Fence Contractor

Hiring an experienced and qualified silt fence contractor is essential for ensuring proper installation, maintenance, and compliance with Washington State regulations. Consider the following factors when choosing a silt fence contractor:

  1. Experience

    Look for a contractor with a proven track record of successful silt fence installations and familiarity with Washington State regulations.

  2. Certifications

    Ensure the contractor holds any necessary certifications or licenses, such as Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (CESCL) credentials.

  3. References

    Request references from previous clients to gauge the contractor’s performance and reliability.

  4. Insurance

    Verify that the contractor carries appropriate insurance coverage, including general liability and workers’ compensation.

With a reputable silt fence contractor like The Bag Lady, you can ensure that your construction project adheres to Washington State regulations while effectively managing erosion and sediment.

With nearly 30 years of experience in the construction industry, The Bag Lady is well-equipped to provide expert guidance and professional silt fencing installation and maintenance services. Trust our expertise to help you achieve your project goals while protecting the environment and staying compliant with all necessary regulations.

Benefits of Using a Silt Fence

Silt fences offer numerous advantages for construction projects, the environment, and the community at large. Here are some of the key benefits:

Environmental Benefits

Silt fences effectively reduce soil erosion, protecting the natural landscape and preserving valuable topsoil. By capturing sediment-laden runoff, silt fences help protect local waterways from pollution and maintain water quality. Furthermore, by mitigating sediment pollution in nearby rivers, lakes, and streams, silt fences play a crucial role in preserving aquatic habitats and protecting wildlife.

Economic Benefits

Silt fences are an affordable and efficient method for managing erosion and sediment on construction sites. Properly installed and maintained silt fences minimize the risk of fines or penalties associated with regulatory violations. Additionally, silt fences help reduce the need for costly repairs and maintenance associated with erosion and sediment damage on construction sites.

Social Benefits

Well-maintained silt fencing for construction sites contributes to a clean and organized construction site, improving its appearance for the surrounding community. By controlling sediment and runoff, silt fences help maintain safer working conditions on construction sites. Demonstrating a commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible construction practices can foster positive relationships with local communities and stakeholders.

Discover the Impact: See How We Assisted the City of Centralia in Flood Prevention here.


In conclusion, silt fences are essential to responsible construction site management. They are vital in preventing soil erosion, protecting water quality, and preserving the environment.

Understanding the different types of silt fences, proper installation techniques, and regulatory requirements ensures your construction project remains compliant and environmentally friendly. Partner with The Bag Lady and enjoy the numerous benefits of quality silt fences and ensure a successful, sustainable project! Contact us today!