Shoreline naturalization

Why having a buffer of shoreline plants is important

Planning a strong shoreline buffer
  • A strong buffer of shoreline trees, shrubs and perennial plants both on land and in the water uses up or prevents nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from running into the lake.
  • Shoreline naturalization buffer strips of dense stiff grasses and plants block the flow of sediment particles from land into the lake. It can also filter out bacteria.
  • Ninety percent of lake life begins within 20 feet of the shoreline so areas where there is some protection from wave action and from sun is important. Buffers including overhanging shrubs and trees is ideal for this.
  • Plants encourage the microscopic and macroscopic life that things such as the young fry of fish, frogs and turtles rely on.
  • Plants reduce wave action which therefore reduces erosion of the shoreline. In winter, the roots of mature trees and deep rooted shrubs repel ice push-up.
    The completed shoreline buffer
  • Shoreline plants keep Geese from fouling lawns as the Geese cannot see what is on the lawn behind the buffer and feel there might be a predator lurking.
  • Planting native trees and shrubs attract pollinators, birds and other species of interest.
  • Shorelines with buffers promote interesting diversity that will be interesting to all. Birds such as herons will be attracted by the small fry of the fish, the crawfish, frogs and more. Turtles and frogs will find a home and opportunity to hide when hunters such as the herons arrive.
  • Grass and vertical retaining walls not only do not work in the long run, but they are very unhealthy for the lake. Even walls that are placed above the high water line prevent the natural movement of species from lake to shore. Vegetated buffer areas along shorelines can be planted with all sorts of attractive native plants and given good garden design. They are definitely not gardens to be fussed with or raked bare each spring and fall.

The 75%, 25% idea

Water lilies, best native plant for healthy water quality and fish

We know, most shoreline owners want access and a view to the lake.  Our suggestion is that you plan to give 75% of your shoreline to nature and the lake and the other 25% can be yours for a dock, boat and general lake access. Buffer strips need not be ugly. With good, and interesting planning, they can add significantly to the enjoyment of your property.

For more on this topic and why see the articles below, call the Stewardship Co-ordinator at Kawartha Conservation (1-800-668-5722 for those in Scugog Township), or see our section on native plants and trees that follows.

Information sources:

Why Scugog needs shoreline restoration (pdf)

Shoreline Native Plant Listing(pdf) Created by Barbara Karthein, for the Scugog Lake Stewards and Scugog Shores Historical Museum.

Landowner Information Data Sheets:  Protecting fish from sediment(pdf)