Prevent Soil Erosion

Erosion allows sediment filled with unwanted nutrients and pesticides to flow into waterways.

With soil erosion, buy you may notice murky water, reduced oxygen levels for aquatic life, loss of aquatic habitat, sedimentation and loss of valuable waterfront property. Consider one of the following ways to reduce sediment runoff and erosion.

Try a Natural Shoreline.

Natural shorelines are buffers that include erosion-control fabrics, native vegetation, and rocks at the water’s edge that protect the property from waves and erosion while improving ecological features and the shoreline’s integrity. Natural shorelines are an alternative to engineered structures like seawalls.

Natural shorelines offer many benefits.

  • Prevent pesticides and fertilizers from running directly into the water.
  • Prevent flooding or standing water better than turf grass.
  • Cost less than structural seawalls.
  • Can be installed by homeowners and require little or no maintenance once established.
  • Provide an attractive privacy screen while maintaining views of the lake.
  • Absorb wave energy, keeping soils and sands settled and water clear.
  • Can act as a deterrent for Canada geese.
  • Are attractive and environmentally healthy.

The go-to resource on all things natural shorelines is the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership!

Minimize exposure.

At the waterfront, leave as many aquatic plants in place as possible to hold bottom sediments and protect the shoreline from wind and ice action.

Avoid grading large areas.

Prevent disturbed soil from being exposed and vulnerable to erosion through runoff.

Cover bare soils.

Plant bare soil as quickly as possible with an appropriate vegetative cover, such as sod or seed. Mulch the area with straw to prevent erosion until the seeds germinate.

Use woody debris.

Incorporate large woody debris, such as stumps, logs and tree trunks to provide essential aquatic habitat and stabilize shorelines. If you are managing woody debris in a stream for recreational passage, experts recommend leaving most logjams in place. Check our Woody Debris Management page for links to helpful resources, training and volunteer opportunities.

Add plants.

If you have an existing structural seawall and are not ready to try a completely natural shoreline, supplement the area on the waterfront side with native aquatic vegetation to help restore lost habitat and on the upland side incorporate a plant buffer. Read more at Plant a Shoreline Buffer.

Control invasive plants.

Learn how to identify and remove aquatic invasive plant species without spreading their growth. Often times, aquatic invasive plant species are spread by pulling out the plant by hand which makes the situation worse. Root and plant fragments can resettle and spread seeds to other areas.

Know your invasive terrestrial plants species too, and be ready to control them. Native shorelines are particularly vulnerable to seeds coming in on the water.

Get the right permits.

If the land you are changing is either 1 acre or if it is within 500 feet of a lakeshore, wetland, or stream you may need a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Permit. Check with your county.

Activities below the ordinary high water mark may require an Inland Lakes and Stream Permit. Check with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

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