Shoreland Erosion Control

Eroding shorelines pose a great risk to water quality. Many soils in our area are naturally high in phosphorus – a nutrient that causes lakes and rivers to turn green. Keeping shorelines stabile and in place can keep our waters healthy. There are several tools and options available to property owners that will protect their shoreline. Native vegetation (especially trees and shrubs), willow wattle, coir logs, and even rock rip have been used to protect shorelines.

Technicians from the SWCD are available to discuss options with you and can even meet at your property to discuss options.  In certain situations, financial assistance may even be available to help with design and installation costs of recommended practices.   

Examples from landowners who have worked to protect their shorelines are shared below:

A newly installed native vegetation buffer installed on Spirit Lake, with small shrubs scattered along a 20-foot-wide buffer.
Spirit Lake

Buffers of Native Vegetation can help to hold the soil in place as well as slow and filter stormwater runoff.  Deep rooted plants, suited to our area are a great choice to add color, texture, and even improve habitat for wildlife. Native plants, including shrubs protect this shoreline on Spirit Lake.  Natural mulch helps to suppress any weeds while the desirable plants become established.

Cattails, green grasses, and other native plants mark a patch of native plant buffer on the shoreline of Wilkins Lake.
Wilkins Lake

Even a small area of native buffer can make a difference for the shoreline and lake water quality.  This Wilkins Lake property owner set aside a portion of her shoreline.

Willow sticks are stacked parallel to shore, armoring the shoreline of a lake.
Willow Wattles

Willow Wattles or Brush Bundles are a low cost alternative for stabilizing shorelines.  Cuttings of brush (typically willows) can be tied together into a length and diameter bundle matching the erosion problem.  This can be staked along the eroding shoreline.  The rough surface buffers the shoreline and gives waves something to break on.

The same coir log, as seen from the water. The coir log is minimally disruptive to the view.
Coir Logs
A coir log is staked in 4 places, pinning the log in place.
Coir Logs

Coir Logs are made of shredded coconut fibers.  These can be placed along the eroding shoreline and provide protection of the raw bank.  If desired, native water loving plants can be placed into the log.  These will eventually become established and provide further buffering of the shoreline. 

A steep bank that slopes toward the lake is stabilized with a rocky layer, staked coir log, and a blanket of erosion control material atop.
Several Strategies

Sometimes the problem requires a combination of several strategies.  This project placed a coir log at the base of the slope, and used existing rock found on site to help create a gentler slope and support the coir log.  The raw bank was covered with an erosion control fabric and then planted with native vegetation that will stabilize the soil. 

A flat yard transitions from grass to native vegetation plantings, to a shoreline of rounded rocks that the lake laps against.
Rock Rip Rap

Rock Rip Rap is only recommended in extreme situations.  Whenever it is used a vegetative component is now required, which helps to naturalize the area.  This Nord Lake project installed a buffer strip of native vegetation above the rock.  Rock was designed at a 3:1 slope, providing a surface for waves to break against and an angle for ice to travel up without crashing against a vertical bank.