Stormwater Blues
Benefits of Riparian Areas

Sizing Your Buffer
Steps for Riparian Planting

Special Considerations
Buffers- Not a Cure-All

| Soil | Lawn Care | Turf Alternatives | Top Secret Agents
Passive Aggressive Plants | Top 10 Un-Wanted Pests | Lakescaping

Special Considerations for Lakeshores

Lakes provide a unique situation when considering a vegetative buffer. The planting of vegetation in the riparian area of a lakeshore is very similar to planting along a stream, yet an additional element needs to be considered-the vegetation in the lakeshore shallows. Lakeshore property owners often consider the vegetation along the shoreline to be weeds or nuisances. Yet it actually serves to protect water quality, the quality of your beach, and fish and wildlife habitat. Lakeshore vegetation can be managed in a way that allows recreational activities and a beautiful view.

Value of Lakeshore Vegetation
There are three main categories of lakeshore vegetation, including emergent vegetation (partially underwater or in water-saturated soils), floating vegetation, and submergent vegetation (underwater). Each of these types plays an important role in helping to protect water quality and provide a complex habitat for fish and wildlife.

  • Emergent vegetation helps reduce the impact of waves, wind, and boat wakes on the shoreline. Without vegetation, the water's force against the shoreline can cause erosion problems and cloudy water. The flexible stems of emergent vegetation absorb and slow the energy of the waves and wind, thus protecting the shoreline.
  • Submergent vegetation helps stabilize the lake sediments and reduces wave action that disturbs sediments and creates cloudy water.
  • Vegetation in general, helps with water quality by both absorbing some contaminants entering the lake from stormwater runoff and helping particles settle rather than staying suspended in the water column.
  • Complex vegetation provides habitat for fish and wildlife. This habitat is used by a variety of fish, amphibians, and birds for feeding, nesting, protection from predators, and raising young.

Deterring Nuisance SpeciesNo-buffer Landscape
Canada geese are common in the Lake Whatcom watershed. While these are beautiful birds, they leave many not so beautiful "surprises" behind them. Lawns that stretch down to the lakeshore are paradise to Canada geese, which are grazers. Lakeshore buffers of tall, dense vegetation generally deter Canada geese-they prefer open areas where it's easier to spot predators.

Creating a Scenic View
You may be concerned that you would lose your view if you plant along the shoreline. Shoreline plantings can actually enhance your view of the lake. If carefully planned, riparian vegetation can be used to frame your view of the your view of the lake, block an unwanted view, or increase the colors, fragrances, and number of birds and other wildlife throughout your property.

Access to the LakeMedium-buffer landscape
Buffers along the lakeshore can be designed to meet your lake access needs. Although a lakeshore buffer should be designed to cover at least 34 of your shoreline, it can still allow access to the shoreline while protecting water quality and wildlife habitat. Figures 2,3 and 4 illustrate one option for adapting a traditional lakeshore property to a more water-friendly approach.




Well-buffered landscape












<< Steps for Riparian Buffer Planting | Buffers Are Not a Cure-all >>

Lake Whatcom Cooperative Management WSU Whatcom County Whatcom Coundy IPM

For more information, contact Scarlet Tang or Todd Murray
WSU Cooperative Extension (360) 676-6736

Any reproduction of photographic images on any portion of this website, including but not limited to the retention and/or storage in a retrieval system of any kind is strictly prohibited without prior express permission