- Jodi Eberhardt
Preserve or Restore Native Shoreline Vegetation
A natural shoreline is a complex ecosystem that helps protect the entire lake. Preserving
or restoring your shoreline with native vegetation is the best way to reduce shoreland
erosion, protect water quality, and improve the health and diversity of shoreland and
upland birds, wildlife, and aquatic plants.
A natural shoreline is a bridge (a buffer) between two worlds—the land and water. It
reduces runoff to prevent erosion and sedimentation to the lake and intercepts nutrients
that can degrade water quality by increasing algae and aquatic plant growth. Studies show that there can be as much as 500% more diversity of plant and animal species along a natural shoreline compared to upland areas.
If your shoreland is already natural vegetation, congratulations—please keep it that way.
If you have lawn to the water’s edge, or very little native vegetation near the shore, consider
a natural shoreland landscaping project to restore the native vegetation by creating
a shoreland buffer zone—an area of native vegetation along the water’s edge.
Creating and maintaining a natural buffer zone along your shore does not mean your
property has to look messy, but it may mean you have to re-think what your shoreland
should look like. Buffers of native trees, flowers and shrubs can bring natural beauty to
your yard. One of the greatest benefits of establishing native vegetation is their deep
root systems that stabilize the shore from erosion and ice damage and provide an area
for rain to soak into the ground instead of running off to the lake.
Even if your neighbors are not restoring their shoreland, it is important for you to proceed
because its helps improve your property and water quality, and you can serve as a
good role model for others to follow. The individual choices by many can have cumulative
impacts on the lake and its ecosystem. Ultimately, keeping the water clean can be
far less costly than cleaning up a damaged lake, and clean waters framed by natural
vegetation often have the highest property values.