We’re all aware of the protection that “rip rap” offers in helping prevent shoreline erosion.
But we also know that it’s costly and, particularly for those of us with steep banks, it’s darn hard work to get those rocky chunks down to the water. The value of planting native “deep rooted” plants along the shoreline has recently come to my attention. A “buffer” of appropriate plantings along the lake helps slow down runoff. The roots act as filters, absorbing nutrients and pollutants carried from the land. Once established, buffers can help prevent erosion from waves, boat wakes and storms. These buffers also provide charming wildlife habitats and help retain a natural, tranquil sense of place. For an interesting and softening effect, plants can even be interspersed among existing rocks.
For design ideas, you might look at the untouched landscapes around you and try to mimic the looks that appear in nature. Ground covers, spikey yellow and blue iris, ferns, layers of perennials, sedges and grasses and even shrubs can work well. A list of recommended buffer plants includes willows, pickerel weed, cone flower, goldenrod, bee balm, lobelia, asters, iris, pussy willow, sumac, dogwood and blueberry. One word of warning -be so careful that the plants you choose are not invasive species. It may sound ridiculous but the scourge of water chestnut and milfoil were introduced into North American environments by well-meaning, but unaware, gardeners who thought they were attractive and didn’t realize the eventual harm they would cause in the environment. An extensive list of appropriate lake landscape materials can be found at www.fiddleheadcreek.com.
Happy water’s edge gardening