The accepted norm on many lakes and streams is to have a mowed lawn up to the edge of a concrete seawall or to the shoreline. Healthy shorelines (and adjacent lawns) have an abundance of native plants both on the land and in the water, which work to filter pollutants out of runoff, deter nuisance wildlife, stabilize the shoreline, and slow wave action. Glacial stone (or rock) seawalls are also an improvement over concrete because they provide stabilization to the shoreline while also minimizing wave action. Homeowners often worry that a natural shoreline will look messy, but with proper planning a natural shoreline can be an incredibly beautiful, low-maintenance landscape feature without interfering with recreation. Native shoreline plantings are relatively new ideas. Because of this, it takes a little more work to plan and install them compared to more traditional shoreline management. However, this site will help you every step of the way, so keep reading to do your part for water quality!
You can customize your shoreline planting to not only improve water quality but also fit it to your own landscape preferences or needs. Do you have a lot of shade in your yard? Do you want to make sure plants don’t get too tall and block your view of the water? Or would you like a planting that attracts birds and butterflies? See below for resources to help you get started.
The planning and construction of a simple native shoreline planting can usually be a do-it-yourself project; however in some instances, it may be necessary or desirable to hire a professional. You want to make sure the professional you hire is able to design your project to your satisfaction and also fulfill city or state requirements (if there are any). When you are looking for a professional, use recommendations from neighbors, online resources and other databases. The following are all good questions to ask potential candidates to ensure you will be satisfied with their work:
- What experience do you have with native shoreline plantings?
- Are you willing to work with homeowners?
- Are you knowledgeable about local and state requirements or permits?
- Can you help me find an appropriate design for my shoreline?
- Are you experienced in erosion control practices necessary for shoreline plantings?
The National Wildlife Federation offers a certification program for backyards, neighborhoods, businesses, schoolyards, and just about any other property. Once a property is certified, the landowner has the option to install a nice sign identifying the area as wildlife-friendly.