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Lakescaping - Restoring Natural Shorelines
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
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
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 - June 2005 - Just One Month Later - Remarkable Growth
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.
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.
- Lakescaping and shoreland restoration: Minnesota DNR
This website of the Minnesota DNR is very well done. There are wonderful photographs of lakescaping and excellent links to other useful sites.
- Botanica - Natural Landscape Specialists
This Wisconsin company specializes in natural landscapes. Their website has information about lakescaping, rain gardens, ponds and other restoration and conservation projects.
- Plant Conservation Alliance Website
This plant database is full of information about native plants, invasive plants, and restoration. There are pictures of everything, too.
- NPIN: Native Plant Database
From this page you can explore the wealth of native plants in North America. You are able to search for 6,882 native plants by scientific or common name or choose a particular family of plants.
Tell me what you think - good or bad, I can take it. Just be polite, please.