Beautiful shores allow us to enjoy a lake, but when the shores erode, lake shoreline stabilization is necessary. From winds, rainstorms, and waves to human causes, there are many factors that contribute to a shoreline eroding.
Season after season of winds and waves can eventually loosen the soil, increasing its chances of being deposited in the lake. This soil erosion may occur under the waterline where you cannot see it. The changes in water level that come with heavy rain and drought impact soil erosion. Additionally, rain runs downhill along the shores and into the water, taking the soil with it.
Soil erosion is most commonly the result of human activity. For example, if your lake has a pipe that delivers water, the place where the water is discharged can contribute to holes or gullies in the surrounding area. Learn more about the types of erosion.
Soil erosion on the shoreline can have many consequences. When soil is eroded, it often ends up in the lake, which will add nutrients and sediment. This organic material and nutrient loading can feed algae in the lake and result in algal overgrowth that can cloud the water and reduce the available oxygen, which can impact the health of the aquatic system.
Shoreline stabilization is necessary to protect your valuable lake and make it a functioning ecosystem for both wildlife and humans to enjoy. With the right shoreline stabilization techniques, you can keep your lake’s shoreline stabilized for the benefit of humans, fish, and wildlife alike.
How Can a Natural Shoreline Protect Against Erosion?
For most shorelines, leaving the property undisturbed offers the best protection against erosion. This affordable form of shoreline management allows the existing vegetation near the shore to work to keep the soil in place. A buffer of native plants along the shoreline functions to bind the soil. This helps the soil stay in place and prevents runoff during weather events or use by humans. Plants work by trapping sand and absorbing wave energy. You may further bolster the shoreline against erosion by adding additional plants to the existing one.
How Does the Shoreline Area Provide a Habitat for Fish and Wildlife?
We see the water’s edge as a place of relaxation and recreation, but the shore is a busy place for fish and wildlife. A key part of an aquatic ecosystem, the shore is an important habitat, and an overdeveloped shoreline will not be able to support fish and wildlife.
Vegetation near the shore is a habitat for many animals. Shoreline grasses provide nesting grounds for waterfowl. The trees and shrubs near the shore provide sites for the nests of songbirds. Fallen trees offer a sunning spot for turtles and provide shade that functions as a hiding spot for fish. Insects live in shoreline vegetation, too, and insects, which can get blown into the water, provide nourishment to the fish who feed off of them. These plants can also filter out the nutrients in runoff that can lead to water quality issues like algal blooms that cloud the water and harm fish.
Lightly developed shorelines work best for fish and wildlife, which allow humans to enjoy fishing, wildlife watching, and the natural beauty of the water.
Recommended Shoreline Protection Methods
Stabilizing your shoreline is the best defense against the soil erosion that can devastate your lake. Lake shoreline stabilization keeps your banks stronger and more stable, which prevents collapse.
A shoreline collapse can be devastating. If there are beach or lakefront properties, their property is at risk of sliding into the lake and being washed away.
There are several techniques for stabilizing the shore of your lake.
Shoreline plants with a rhizome root system offer great shoreline protection against soil erosion. The deep, robust roots of these plants take hold of soil that might otherwise erode. The root system functions to hold this water-saturated soil in place. Shoreline vegetation benefits fish and wildlife in many ways as we have discussed in the above section.
Native plants work best because they thrive in the local environment and will have a higher survival rate than non-native plants.
Grasses and Similar Plants
The best grasses and grass-like plants for soil stabilization on the bank of your lake include ornamental grasses and grassy aquatic plants. Grasses with extensive roots systems are the best choice for binding the soil along a lake shoreline.
Wetland plants have soil-stabilizing root systems that penetrate the soil deep below the shoreline. Wetland plants do best in the areas along the banks where the soil is saturated with water. Establishing these plants along your lake’s shoreline is the preferred method for shoreline stabilization.
Erosion Control Devices
Surface water runoff can be a major source of soil erosion on the slopes of a lake. Using shoreline stabilization techniques that make use of erosion control devices is an effective way to keep the banks of your lake in good condition.
Riprap and Root Trap
Riprap makes use of a filter blanket bolstered with rocks on the shoreline to keep the existing soil in place and protect the slope from further erosion due to wave energy.
With root trap, the same riprap technique is used, but soil is used to fill in the areas around the rocks. Next, establishing plants above the rocks enables their root system to grow and hold the rocks in place.
Erosion Control Blankets
Made from woven material, erosion control blankets cover the soil and any growing vegetation, providing protection from water moving across its surface. The surface of the blanket has ridges and obstructions that will slow down water. You can find these blankets in a range of sizes, and they are typically cut into widths of about 3 to 5 feet.
Fiber rolls or coil logs are made from the same material as erosion control blankets. Rather than using the material as a blanket, the material is rolled into a log shape and encased in netting. The resulting logs slow down water runoff and cause the water to pool temporarily. The water runoff pools where the material can collect sediment. The materials used for fiber rolls include wheat wattle, rice wattle, and coconut fiber. All these materials work to effectively capture sediment before it runs into the water.
Creating a physical barrier that blocks the flow of water and allows sediment to settle out is key when it comes to erosion control. Temporary silt fencing provides exactly this function. Silt fencing can stop runoff on a temporary basis while a slope reestablishes itself. Once the slope is established, the fencing should be removed. Additionally, silt fencing is a good option for catching runoff from construction projects.
Retaining Walls or Bulkheads
Retaining walls or bulkheads do provide erosion control, but proper installation is key to avoiding risking a breach. A breach can lead to the bulkhead falling into the lake or becoming destabilized through erosion around the sides and from underneath.
Bioengineered Living Shoreline
The latest technology for shoreline stabilization is a bioengineered shoreline like SOX Erosion Solutions™. Patented systems like this one work by stopping soil erosion and stabilizing the shoreline with a special mesh and anchoring system. Using a combination of durable knitted mesh and a fabric similar to a sock, the system is a quick and aesthetic solution for lake shoreline stabilization. The “socks” are filled with muck from the lake and secured to the embankment, and then they can be covered with sod and native buffer plants.
Lake Shoreline Stabilization in Florida
Lake management is important in Florida for homeowner associations, commercial properties, and other developments who must all grapple with the challenges of managing a lake shoreline and preventing soil erosion from the lake’s banks. At Lake and Wetland Management, we know that Floridians take their waterways seriously. We are experts in managing Florida’s lakes and other water bodies, and we make it easy to manage your shoreline and other elements that contribute to the health of the aquatic system.
If you are interested in erosion control in lakes and ponds, call Lake & Wetland Management at 855-888-5253 or contact us online for a free on-site inspection and proposal. We manage lakes throughout Florida, providing a range of shoreline erosion restoration services to our customers. Let us develop a plan tailored to your needs and goals for your lake.