for riparian buffer planting
Get outside, walk your property, and develop a sketch of your property. Include property boundaries, the location of the shoreline, buildings, utilities and existing vegetation.
Make a survey of the existing vegetation on your site. Identify any plants and trees that you may want to work into your revegetation scheme. Look at existing vegetation along the stream or lake for ideas.
Consider the slope of your property. A slope of 45% or less should be suitable for planting. If your slope is steeper than 45% and eroding, you may need a more engineered solution. Seek professional assistance to avoid creating or increasing an erosion problem. Also, permits are generally required when you work below the ordinary high water mark.
Determine the sun exposure
of your property. This will determine what plants will thrive in your
yard. South-facing slopes generally receive more sun and dry out faster
than north-facing slopes.
Since some plants are better suited to wet places and others to well-drained locations, figure out what kind of soil you have. Put some in your hand, add enough water to moisten it, and try rolling it into a ribbon. If the soil doesn't hold together, it's mostly sand. If it forms a ribbon but falls apart, it's mostly silt. If it makes a long ribbon that stays together, the soil is predominantly clay.
You may also want to take a soil sample to be analyzed by a lab. A soil sample can tell you a great deal about the fertility and pH of your soil at the start of the project. Sometimes soil amendments may be needed to bring things back to a productive level.
Develop a Plan
Consider how you currently use your yard. How much lawn do you really use for recreation? Where are the utilities located? What places do you need access to that can't be blocked by vegetation?
Size matters when deciding how much of your yard to convert to shoreland vegetation. A buffer should be as large as possible to provide the most protection to the shoreline and improvement to water quality. The steeper the slope, the wider the buffer needed to provide protection.
First, think about how much less lawn you will have to maintain-feels good, doesn't it? Second, use stakes and flagging to mark out a tentative border. Think about it for a while so that you are comfortable with your decision. If your neighbor already has an established buffer, you can blend yours with theirs to increase vegetative cover for wildlife.
Choose the Plants
Start looking early on for sources of appropriate plant stock. For example, there are several native plant nurseries in the area, but their stock may be limited. Ultimately, availability will determine your choices. You can always thin your plantings and add other appropriate species as they become available.
A plan view sketch of your buffer is very useful to determine where and how much to plant (see Figure 1). In general, shrubs and small trees should be planted on four-foot centers. Think about how the plants will look when grown-a common mistake is planting too closely. Some fastgrowing plants will out compete shade intolerant species. A nursery will be able to provide advice on planting densities, location, and maintenance.
When new home sites are cleared, the native topsoil is often removed and sold. This practice makes it easier to prepare the foundation but it removes all of the organic matter from the site. A soil test will indicate what vital nutrients may be missing.
Maintain Your Plants
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