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Geotextiles are permeable fabrics which, when used in association with soil, have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain. Typically made from polypropylene or polyester, geotextile fabrics come in three basic forms: woven (looks like mail bag sacking), needle punched (looks like felt), or heat bonded (looks like ironed felt).
Geotextile composites have been introduced and products such as geogrids and meshes have been developed. Overall, these materials are referred to as geosynthetics and each configuration—-geonets, geogrids and others—-can yield benefits in geotechnical and environmental engineering design.
Geotextiles were originally intended to be an alternative to granular soil filters. Thus the original, and still sometimes used, term for geotextiles is filter fabrics. Work originally began in the 1950s with R.J. Barrett using geotextiles behind precast concrete seawalls, under precast concrete erosion control blocks, beneath large stone riprap, and in other erosion control situations. He used different styles of woven monofilamentt fabrics, all characterized by a relatively high percentage open area (varying from 6 to 30%). He discussed the need for both adequate permeability and soil retention, along with adequate fabric strength and proper elongation and set the tone for geotextile use in filtration situations.
Geotextiles and related products have many applications and currently support many civil engineering applications including roads, airfields, railroads, embankments, retaining structures, reservoirs, canals, dams, bank protection, coastal engineering and construction site silt fences. Usually geotextiles are placed at the tension surface to strengthen the soil. Geotextiles are also used for sand dune armoring to protect upland coastal property from storm surge, wave action and flooding. A large sand-filled container (SFC) within the dune system prevents storm erosion from proceeding beyond the SFC. Using a sloped unit rather than a single tube eliminates damaging scour.
Erosion control manuals comment on the effectiveness of sloped, stepped shapes in mitigating shoreline erosion damage from storms. Geotextile sand-filled units provide a "soft" armoring solution for upland property protection. Geotextiles are used as matting to stabilize flow in stream channels and swales.
Coir (coconut fiber) geotextiles are popular for erosion control, slope stabilization and bioengineering, due to the fabric's substantial mechanical strength.:App. I.E Coir geotextiles last approximately 3 to 5 years depending on the fabric weight. The product degrades into humus, enriching the soil.
Design considerations 
To use geotextiles to reinforce a steep slope, two components have to be calculated:
- the tension required for equilibrium
- the appropriate layout of the geotextile reinforcement.
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See also 
- Barrett, R. J., "Use of Plastic Filters in Coastal Structures," Proceedings from the 16th International Conference Coastal Engineers, Tokyo, September 1966, pp. 1048-1067
- Dane County Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Manual (Report). Madison, WI. 2007. http://www.danewaters.com/pdf/manual/ecsm_manual.pdf. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (2003). Massachusetts Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines for Urban and Suburban Areas (Report). Boston, MA. http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/esfull.pdf. pp. 73-74.
- Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn, Archaeology. 4th ed. New York: Thames 2004. ISBN 978-0-500-28441-4.[page needed]
- WGBH Boston (1996-12). "Interview with Stacey Loizeaux". NOVA Online. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 2009-04-29. "Other preparatory operations involve covering/wrapping the columns first with chain link fences and then with geotextile fabric, which is very puncture resistant and has a very high tensile strength. It allows the concrete to move, but it keeps the concrete from flying. The chain link catches the bigger material and the fabric catches the smaller material from flying up and out."
- Richards, Davi (2006-06-02). "Coir is sustainable alternative to peat moss in the garden". Garden Hints. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Extension Service. Retrieved 2013-03-06.