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Lakescaping - Restoring Natural Shorelines

Updated on January 16, 2015

Restoring Natural Shorelines Through Lakescaping

Believe it or not, everyone has waterfront property. Yes, it's true! Even if you live in the middle of a city.

I'll attempt to answer why that's true and to explain why lakescaping can help to save our natural waterways, wherever they are.

Lakescaping is a wonderful natural gardening concept that has an enormous impact on the eco-life in our lakes but can be applied to other natural shorelines near rivers and oceans, as well.

I took this photo of a sailboat off the shore of Catalina Island. It's a beautiful place. The ocean is a precious resource that we all need to work hard to save because no matter where we live, the ocean is on our doorstep.

What Is Lakescaping?

And Why Is It Important?

This is a photograph of part of our shoreline when our lakescaping was fairly new.

Lakescaping is the process of restoring the shorelines of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water with native grasses, sedges, wildflowers, shrubbery, etc. which help to prevent the erosion of the shoreline.

Also, native plants have very deep roots so they are able to filter pollutants such as fertilizers and chemicals that may be in water runoff from impervious surfaces like roofs, roads and driveways.

We have a lake home in Minnesota. The street that we live on has about eight or ten year round-homes and ours is one of them. Most of the homes have beautifully manicured lawns that stretch down to the beach.

Several years ago during a torrential rainstorm part of the shoreline between our land and our neighbor's land eroded into the lake.

There was literally a river of rainwater flowing between our houses and when it was all over, the beautiful sandy beach looked like the fingers of a river delta. We were horrified.

We knew we had to do something to prevent that erosion in the future. We visited some lake properties nearby that were already planted with native grasses and wildflowers and realized that we could have a beautiful property and save our lake at the same time.

Creating a Lakescape - Draw Up A Plan and Prepare The Land

Creating a Lakescape - Draw Up A Plan and Prepare The Land
Creating a Lakescape - Draw Up A Plan and Prepare The Land

Our Lakescape Plan

In this blueprint of our plan you can see our design. The dock is noted as well as the open space which we need when it's time to pull the dock out of the lake in the fall.

That tiny arrangement of dots that you see indicates the location of our fire pit on the sandy beach.

That fire pit is well-used in the spring and fall to take the chill out of the air. It's also important to have for toasting marshmallows for s'mores! And there's nothing quite like a blackened hot dog with a little sand garnish!

We determined where to place the lakescaping. We needed to be sure that the beach would be protected during a heavy rain. Then we had to destroy the grassy area so the new native plants would not be crowded out.

Sand Coreopsis - 2008

Sand Coreopsis - 2008
Sand Coreopsis - 2008

Creating a Lakescape - The Planting

We planted 1100 individual plugs of native grasses and wildflowers. We marked each of them with their names on tiny white markers.

You can see how we planted each plant individually by using a drill to make the hole. Then we gently placed each plant into it's space and carefully mulched it. Eleven hundred times...grueling work but well worth it!

The Lakescape - First Spring

The Lakescape - First Spring
The Lakescape - First Spring

The Lakescape - June 2005 - Just One Month Later - Remarkable Growth

The Lakescape - June 2005 - Just One Month Later - Remarkable Growth
The Lakescape - June 2005 - Just One Month Later - Remarkable Growth

July 2005 - On Our Way To A Pretty & Functional Lakeshore Garden

July 2005 - On Our Way To A Pretty & Functional Lakeshore Garden
July 2005 - On Our Way To A Pretty & Functional Lakeshore Garden

Lakescape in July

By July we had birds, bees and butterflies all vying for a place in the new lake garden.

One day I even saw a turtle waddling up the path through the wildflowers and grasses. I knew then that our garden was a success.

This summer will be our fifth summer and we have not experienced any erosion at all. The grasses and wildflowers will be very tall, this year.

Their roots will be deep in the ground protecting the lake from all erosion and pollutants.

This is how our lakescape looks in the fall. It's all natural and I think it's beautiful.

We could cut it all down and it would grow just fine next spring but we choose to leave it this way. It provides shelter and food such as berries and seeds for the little woodland creatures that live here in the winter.

Here are some closeup photos of a few native flowers and grasses showing how they look when summer is over. That's Little Bluestem on the right and those are Rosehips on the Left. The center photo shows the Coneflower and Rosehips as they are in the fall.

Chokeberry Bush in the fall

and native grasses at the lakeshore.

Wonderful Reading Resources for Lakescaping

There are books or field guides for wildflowers each focused on a different part of the country. I have this one for Minnesota.

A Wildflower Coloring Book

There's also a coloring book for children. They'll be the gardeners of the future! Now is the time to get them interested.

Lakescaping Links

The Upper Midwest states have certainly taken the initiative when it comes to restoring shorelines. Minnesota has been especially vigilant.

Here are a few examples. These websites are well worth a visit.

Tell me what you think - good or bad, I can take it. Just be polite, please.

Your Comments and Suggestions, Please

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    • james g pete profile image

      james g pete 6 years ago

      This is one of the greatest examples of intercoastal systems. That's probably not the right name. Anyway, I really like the tone and approach of this lens. Thank you.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @dannystaple: You're absolutely right about preventing soil erosion on high ground, too. Thanks for pointing that out. And thanks for the great comments!

    • profile image

      dannystaple 7 years ago

      The lakescaping process, is also just as good to prevent soil erosion on high ground too - a nice verdant, deep rooted covering will protect the bare soil from the elements. A brilliant lens - and I thoroughly agree that everyone should be aware of it.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @Heather426: Thanks very much, Heather. Lakescaping IS beautiful and fun. I've got a bouquet of dried flowers and grasses that my husband clipped just the other day. They'll last a long time, too.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Another beautiful lens. Lakescaping is beautiful and fun.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @norma-holt: A thousand thank yous for this special blessing and for featuring this on not one, but two of your lenses! I am most grateful.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @anonymous: Thanks! So glad you enjoyed this lens. Alas, I cannot do your gardening...we have more gardens than we can handle here at our home!!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Great lens and congrats on the purple star. *-*Blessed*-* ad featured ojn Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Save Planet Earth

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information, most interesting. You are very welcome to come to my back garden and do some landscaping.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks so much to Squidoo for awarding a purple star to this lens. I am most grateful.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @eclecticeducati1: I'm very late replying to your sorry. But I did want to say that you don't have to live on a lake to keep our natural waterways clean and safe. Lakescaping is just one way to stop water pollution at the water's edge.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @ElizabethJeanAl: Thanks so much, Lizzy! Believe it or not, you noticed my purple star before I did!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Wonderful information and well illustrated. I've lensrolled it to Lake Cottage and

      Sugar Valley Lakes.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @Virginia Allain: Thank you, Virginia, for stopping by! I appreciate your comment and the lensrolling. I've just discovered your lenses and they look wonderful...will be stopping by to visit you as time permits.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Congrats on your purple star.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 7 years ago from Minnesota

      @joanhall: Thank you, Joan! You are right...native plantings are naturally pretty and are much easier to care for.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Your garden is absolutely beautiful. I love native planting, it feels so much more alive than perfectly trimmed lawn.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      @eclecticeducati1: Thank you! Everyone can make an impact even if you don't live on a lake. I appreciate the support!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 8 years ago

      Great lens! I don't have a lake, but it's a neat idea.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 9 years ago from Vermont

      Our next home is hopefully on a lake in New England ... I will take the wonderful lessons and examples from this lens with me to apply them to that new gardening venture.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 9 years ago from Canada

      This is a wonderful lens. It's a worthwhile read to understand how we can protect our environment and mitigate erosion - lensrolled into Garden Paths and 5*! Thanks for dropping by.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Oh, how beautiful. I have some mountain views from our house but they are far away. We live in a tract. Very nice work on the lens and the lakescaping. I am on Kab's Fab team. I am slow writing lens, as well, but for this challenge I have started intro's on 4 topics at once to see if I can get more done. Glad to meet you.

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 9 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      Great idea, your yard looks beautiful.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 9 years ago from Minnesota

      Good question. The beach erosion occurs when the water rushes down the hill or across the property with nothing to stop it. Grass has very short roots but native grasses and flowers have very deep root systems. So, lakescaping - with all the native grasses and flowers - is the barrier that stops the water from washing pollutants into the sand and then into the water. The water soaks into the lakescape garden instead. And the beach sand is protected from erosion. Thanks for asking! [in reply to Jim]

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I like what you have done, looks great.....I have a appears you left the entire beach open with sand.....So, I can see how the lakescaping prevents runoff into the lake....but how do you eliminate the beach errosion??


    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      It's really maturing, love the photo updates!

    • profile image

      nilamdoc 9 years ago

      Excellent landscaping... WOW!!! 5 (five)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      This is a strong lens...and yet your sweetness comes through!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 9 years ago

      Terrific photos of landscapes and water! Thank you for taking me on a journey with you through this lens. :)

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      Just stunning! Excellent ideas on an excellent lens!

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 9 years ago

      Beautiful garden and lens :)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      Love this lens! 5 stars and favorite.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 9 years ago

      This sounds like the answer to our shorelines!!

      Thank You Cheryl!

    • Stinky LM profile image

      Stinky LM 9 years ago

      Great lens! 5 stars!

      Sensible and efficient design!

    • MacPharlain profile image

      MacPharlain 10 years ago

      The new lakescape looks great and well worth the effort.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 10 years ago

      Great lens! I need to do some landscaping but I never seem to find the time.

      5 stars and Lensroll to The Water Around us.

      Good Job


    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 10 years ago from Royalton

      Another great lens!

      The Lemmings truly appreciate the way you take care of the shoreline.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 10 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      Enjoy your lenses, this is another good one.

    • beeobrien lm profile image

      beeobrien lm 10 years ago

      Definitely split into two. What you have here is a really great start, though. Very important information. I hope you do well with it.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 10 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks, JJ. I appreciate your feedback and your approval and have decided to split this lens into two.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 10 years ago

      Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by my Topicability lens! Were you asking for advice about this lens? I think you should split out Rain Gardens with a self-title lens and then develop that lens and Lakescaping a bit more. I'd love to see the Polaroids of lakescaping. ;-) GREAT info. 5 stars!