What is a shoreland buffer zone?
A buffer zone is an unmowed strip of native vegetation that
extends both lakeward and landward from the water’s
edge. A buffer zone of native plants that extends 25-50
feet landward from the shore is preferable, but even
adding a buffer as narrow as 10-15 feet can restore many
functions critical to the health of the lake that may have
been eliminated previously by sod, hard structures, or
mowing. When it comes to shoreland buffers, wider is
better for more benefits.
A shoreland buffer zone consists of:
• The shallow aquatic zone of the emergent, submerged,
and floating leaf aquatic plants that provide
food and shelter for ducks, songbirds, frogs and other
amphibians, and fish. The taller plants, like bulrush,
sedges, and cattails can reduce the energy of wave
action to minimize erosion and help maintain water
• The wetland transition zone of more water-loving
plants that bind the lake bed to the upland soils.
• The upland zone of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and
wildflowers slows rainwater running over-land, making
sediment drop out, absorbing water and nutrients, and
breaking down pollutants.