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Monday, 25 August 2014 20:00

A stable shoreline for a healthy lake

Nobody wants to come up to the lake and deal with shoreline problems. But many property owners in the Kawarthas are grappling with some common issues. These include erosion and ice damage, Canada geese, excessive aquatic plants, and blue-green algae in the water. Widespread, these problems threaten the health of the lake system as a whole.

Many of these issues are made worse by traditional landscaping practices, such as manicured lawns right to the water and breakwalls. Without abundant vegetation, the shoreline is left unprotected and exposed to the forces of nature. That’s why more and more property owners in the Kawarthas are simply letting their shorelines grow.

Working with nature

By allowing plants to grow on your shoreline, the benefits they provide will grow, too. As root systems expand, they take hold of the soil and help stabilize the bank. Above ground, the plants deter Canada geese by removing wide open, cut grass. The thick vegetation also filters nutrient rich sediments in surface water runoff that would otherwise end up in the lake and feed the weeds.

Getting started

The first step is easy, and will give you more time to relax by the water. Just stop cutting your lawn to the water’s edge. Leave at least 3 to 6 feet from the shoreline uncut. As it grows, pull out any weeds and invasive species.

To enhance your “no-mow zone,” plant native shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers that will grow deep roots. Here are some plants that are best suited to shorelines in the Kawarthas:

Grasses Shrubs Wildflowers
Indian grass Red Oiser Dogwood Purple Coneflower
Big Bluestem Nannyberry Black Eyed Susan
Canada Bluejoint High-bush Cranberry Wild Strawberry
Canada Wild Rye Sage-leaved Willow Blue Flag Iris

Bigger projects

For shorelines with extensive erosion and ice damage, structural supports may be considered. A licensed contractor can provide advice about options for your property, but be sure to contact Kawartha Conservation about the permit requirements before starting any work on the shoreline.

For big or small projects, Kawartha Conservation staff can provide a free, no-obligation consultation to provide recommendations. For more about shoreline protection, visit or call 705.328.2271.