Lakeshore Restoration is the establishment of a shore land buffer of native grasses, forbs (wildflowers), shrubs, trees and aquatics. Plants in shore land buffers are effective at: soil stabilization via extensive root systems, absorption of nutrients, filtration of pollutants, oxygen production, stabilization of sediments in the water, reduction of shoreline erosion, and providing wildlife habitat.
The best projects are not overly large or expensive, they are the ones that evaluate the site well, use existing features, keep up with maintenance, and examine the whole area, from the land out into the water. Effective buffer zones should be along at least 75% of a property’s water frontage and extend 16 to 25 feet or more from the water’s edge onto the land. The wider the buffer zone the better it will function.
Lakeshore restoration begins with evaluating what you want out of your shoreline. Determine what uses are important and necessary to properly enjoy your shoreline by asking if you like sitting by the water, watching sunsets, or really only want a walking path to your dock. Once you decide what you need for your uses, evaluation of your site’s physical conditions can begin. Examine sun and moisture conditions and determine the size of your planting area.
When selecting your plants for your design, keep in mind that shore land is a continuum. That is, there is generally a gradual elevation change in water depth, soil moisture and elevation as you move inland from the water’s edge.
Even though a restored shoreline is lower maintenance alternative to traditional lawns, some maintenance is still needed to preserve your investment. Frequent watering immediately after planting is just as important as continued weeding after establishment. Be sure to keep a few of each plant type labeled so it will be easier to identify your plants from any invasive species that try to take advantage of your shoreline.
For help planning your lakeshore project, call Emily Siira at the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District at (320) 763-3191 x 3.