PHOTO: Shoreline erosionShoreline Erosion Control

How often have you seen lakeshores that resemble the photographs to the left: abrupt interfaces between the land and the water, exposed and denuded soil, and essentially nonexistent wildlife habitat? The shoreline zone is subjected to stress from myriad sources: wave energy generated by wind and recreational boats, burrowing by muskrats and other water-loving critters, erosion caused by runoff from upland areas, and downslope pressure from steep and heavy upslope soils.

In relatively undisturbed natural settings, nearshore gradients along lake shorelines often are on the order of 10H:1V or shallower; in other words, the land rises no more than one vertical foot (V) for every 10 horizontal feet (H) back from the lakeshore). The figure below presents a greatly simplified version of the more than 40 different stabilization treatments that have been utilized by the Garden to help heal our eroding shorelines. Integral to nearly all our designs is the creation of shallow water planting "shelves" extending out from the water's edge, and a slope in nearshore land of never steeper than 5H:1V. As the shoreline areas are regraded, care is taken to thoroughly blend an interface layer of topsoil with the clay subsoils beneath, to avoid subsequent downslope sliding of the topsoil layer across the clay layer's slippery surface.

Illustration of shoreline