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Backyard Conservation: Native Shoreline Planting

Erosion of streambanks and shorelines can significantly impact the water quality and wildlife habitat of our rivers and lakes. Historically, the solution was to place rocks, walls, or other heavy items along the shore to keep soil in place. These practices may stabilize the stream-bank or shoreline temporarily, but are often very expensive and create an area that is almost devoid of wildlife habitat and other benefits.

Native shoreline stabilization or bioengineering offers an alternative to hard armoring with rock or walls. Native shoreline stabilization consists of using native vegetation and bioengineering techniques to protect the shorelines of lakes and streams. Natural materials (like native plants on shore, or strategically placed rocks or root wads from old trees placed along the bank) are used to create a self-repairing bank. A properly designed, naturalized stream-bank or shoreline can offer immediate stabilization, while also providing substantial wildlife habitat and water quality benefits.

Shoreline Project

Native plants are strongly encouraged for shoreline stabilizations. Native plants have deep roots that help anchor soil in place and prevent erosion, provide excellent wildlife habitat, and are adapted to local climate and soil conditions.

Vegetation is one of the most important elements in the natural protection of land. Roots and stems tend to trap fine sand and soil particles, forming an erosion-resistant layer. Plants absorb some of the water's energy, slowing down potentially erosive currents. They also act as a shoreline buffer that slows runoff entering the stream or lake and removes nutrients from the runoff. (An overload of nutrients can cause problematic algae blooms.)

Financial Incentive Programs:

Landscaping for Clean Water Grants
Citizen Conservation Stewards

More Resources:

Blue Thumb - Planting for Clean Water
Dakota County Landscaping for Clean Water
Lakescaping and Shorline Restoration (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
Minnesota Shoreland Management Resource Guide