Two methods for Shoreline Restoration
Updated: Jun 21
Shoreline erosion can be a problem for any resident living on a waterfront property. Erosion can come from wave action beating against the water's edge, or through the lack of stabilization with contemporary turf grass lawns. But steps can be taken to protect and restore the area between your lawn and the water!
Why is my shoreline disappearing?
One of the biggest causes of shoreline erosion is planting turn grass right up to the water's edge. Since typical turf grass roots grow only inches into the ground, soil is left with little-to-no hook to anchor on. However, with plants and grasses that are native to Minnesota's shorelines, roots can travel down into the soil up to fifteen feet! Minnesota native plant roots hold soil in place while also providing a barrier to waves and showcasing the beauty of native shoreline plants.
Native plants are like the icebergs of the plant world: we can see part of them on the surface, but their real scope can only be seen below ground. If you look at the image below, the tiny plant on the left shows the root depth of turf grass compared to other common Minnesota native plants.
Native Shoreline Seedings
There are multiple ways to stabilize or restore your natural shoreline. If you are tired of constant yard maintenance, and if you're looking to add more color to your water's edge, a native shoreline seeding project might be right for you.
Native seeding projects involve transforming an area that is 10-15 feet wide from your shoreline into a natural, plant-filled buffer right at your water's edge. These projects involve minimal construction--the most laborious part being removing the existing vegetation--and can be done with relatively low-cost.
Seeds or plant plugs can be used depending on a site's elevation and dimensions. The natural resource specialists at our office can provide suppliers and equipment recommendations to anyone interested. And technical assistance for the planning and installation of any project is always available free of charge.
Native seedings require some maintenance in the first years of growth to ensure the native plants are establishing properly. But once their roots have been established, usually after year three, the planting will be able to stabilize your shoreline for years to come.
For more large-scale erosion issues, an entire shoreline restoration might be necessary. If soil is washing away by the foot, or if your property's waterfront is excessively steep and prone to consecutive wave action, work can be done to preserve your land. These projects typically take more planning and construction time, but the results cannot be compared.
Shoreline restorations can be done in a couple different ways. If a slope has excess "sluffing" or a very steep edge, reshaping that bank is the first step. Reshaping involves creating a gradual decline into the water, allowing for wave action to gently slope upward rather than crashing into a soil wall.
In some cases, banks need to be rebuilt from great slopes, and coir logs are used to help add gradual shoreline and additional stabilization. The process of these larger restoration projects involves engineering and calculations to ensure the banks are built to proper standards. Please contact a contractor or our office before you begin this rebuilding process.
The Scott SWCD office provides technical assistance on everything from full restorations, to simpler native seedings. Projects are always tailored to specific properties.
Free technical assistance to help design your project and financial assistance for materials and installation may be available!
For additional information, or to begin your own shoreline restoration project, visit our contact us page or call the Scott SWCD office at 952-492-5425.
We had a workshop!
If you missed our informational workshop, you can download the PowerPoint presentation below with information to help you begin your shoreline restoration projects.
Whether you live on a lake, pond, river, or stream, help do your part to protect and improve the quality of our local water bodies. The workshop is an opportunity to learn how to protect and restore the area between your lawn and the water.
Materials include information on:
Different planting techniques to best suit your property.
Resources to help you begin your restoration process.
Common shoreline loss issues and their solutions, such as ice heaving, lack of buffers, and excess wave action.
Details on the Scott SWCD's free technical assistance to help design your restoration.
Suppliers of equipment and seed, and take-home information for your reference.
Financial assistance for materials and installation that may be available.