Shoreline Buffers: Linganore’s Front Line

June 24th, 2014 No Comments

by Christine Dagostino

Many people who live by the lake are surprised to discover that typical landscaping may not only harm the lake, but may also lead to a loss of the natural shoreline. Natural beauty, cover, and food for the shore and aquatic life are destroyed when shorelines are bulkheaded and vegetation close to the water is cut back or removed. In addition, the predominance of lawn, which seems to have a mass appeal, leads to increased stormwater runoff, which carries fertilizers and pesticides directly into the lake.

Failure to understand our impact on this natural system has led to a loss of beauty and natural biological functions. In addition, it may eventually lead to a loss in property values.

Benefits of Lake Linganore Shoreline Buffers

By retaining and restoring natural shoreline plantings along the lakes and the creeks, we can improve our immediate natural environment so that we can have more fish, birds and wildlife, as well as naturally filtered runoff. Views from our homes as well as those from the water will be enhanced. Efforts made at each home can lead directly to increased value, lower operational costs, and a better quality of life.

More specifically, shoreline buffers produce benefits to the environment and property owners in the following ways:

Erosion Reduction The deep root systems of trees, bushes, and shrubs absorb stormwater and stabilize shoreline soil to cut down erosion.

Minimize Pollution Natural buffers absorb sediment and pesticides and reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous by 30 to 98 percent. These are the primary pollutants to the lakes and creeks.

Expand the Natural Habitat Trees, bushes, shrubs, and natural grasses are critical to most lake wildlife. Wood debris along the shoreline is essential cover for small fish and birds.

Clean the Air Dust, carbon dioxide, and other airborne pollutants are removed from the air by trees that in turn provide oxygen essential for human health.

Increase Property Values Trees and other natural landscaping increase property values by 20 percent or more. Prospective home buyers are attracted to environmentally beneficial settings.
Create a Sense of Place & Privacy Our outdoor activities can be more enjoyable and healthy in the cool shade beneath trees.

Save Energy Costs We can save as much as 25 percent a year in energy costs by planting deciduous trees to shade the homes and evergreens as windbreaks.

Planning for Shoreline Buffers

  • Plan your shoreline buffers strategically by:
  • Selecting locations for family outdoor activities so they will not impact the shoreline,
  • Considering the views and vistas that will enhance the overall panorama,
  • Studying the sun’s path in order to position shade trees where they will do their job,
  • Choosing organic fertilizers and using them sparingly
  • Selecting a diverse mix of native plants and trees compatible with our local soil conditions.

Selecting the Plants

  • Homeowners can select a wide range of plants to enhance shoreline buffers including:
  • Tall trees such as: Green Ash, Pin Oak, River Birch, Sycamore, Willow Oak, and American Hornbeam;
  • Low growing trees such as: Eastern Red Cedar, Lowering Dogwood, and Redbud;
  • Shrubs such as: Button Bush, Spice Bush, Sweetbay, and Wax Myrtle;
  • Ground cover and grasses such as: Common Sedge, Sweet Flag, and Soft Rush;
  • Shoreline grasses such as: Big Cordgrass and Common Three-Square.

Selecting the Location for Plants

  • Select the planting locations strategically so that the plants can produce their greatest benefits:
  • Plant shoreline grasses in and near the water to filter stormwater runoff.
  • Minimize lawn space throughout the property, particularly at the waterfront.
  • Add native shrubs and ground cover, especially at the top of a slope. Select ground cover instead of hard surfaces to absorb rainfall and reduce heat build-up.
  • Position larger shrubs and trees for screening or privacy.
  • Vary height and shape of trees to create framed views along the shoreline.
  • Locate tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade the roof and walls. On the north and west sides plant evergreens to block winter winds.
  • Select mulch, stone, or flagstones for paths.
  • Build steps of timber or stone to divert rainfall into adjacent plantings.

*The ideas and information contained in this article have been deftly removed from a number of sources produced by federal and state agencies. These include the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Office of Resource Conservation, and the Annapolis Tree Committee.

This article was originally published in November 1999 in the Enviroline column of LakeTalk. Although it speaks to properties adjacent to the water, all homeowners throughout the Lake Linganore community can contribute to the protection and restoration of our waterways by incorporating these principles into their property maintenance. Many properties are located on steep slopes or hillsides and could greatly contribute to ‘clean runoff.’ Understanding that all slopes (and all properties in every Village around Lake Linganore) lead to our stormwater swales, creeks, and lakes is the first step toward identifying areas of your property that could benefit from a lake-friendly landscaping makeover!

More Good Practices for Every Homeowner:

Look into using permeable pavement whenever possible in your yard. Traditional concrete and asphalt don’t allow water to soak into the ground. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snow melt to soak through, decreasing stormwater runoff.

Using rain barrels allows you to harness rainwater from your roof that would have merely been runoff, and gives you free water to use for your trees, shrubs, gardens, and planters Make sure your barrel is outfitted to be mosquito proof (most of them are).

Specially-designed areas, such as rain gardens and grassy swales, planted with native plants can provide natural places for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. Rain from rooftop areas or paved areas can be diverted into these areas rather than into storm drains.

Using vegetated filter strips, or areas of native grasses or plants, along roadways, streams, or lakesides, to trap pollutants that stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets is a useful landscaping practice that helps protect water quality.

Check this out!

Don’t know where to start? Check out this link to see many shade and sun garden plan templates designed using native plants that thrive in our Piedmont region of the state:

This site features garden designs that accommodate various areas of your property (i.e. front entry), a range of sizes, and various shapes (i.e. L-shaped, round, rectangle, etc.).

The plants featured in the templates can be purchased from local nurseries that stock native plants or from area native plant sales. To a listing of local sources to purchase native plants, check out:

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