Shoreline Health at the Cottage
Updated: Feb 8
In the Haliburton Highlands we LOVE our lakes. How can we not, with over 600 lakes to enjoy in our county alone! Thoughts about being at the lake... cannonballs, doggie paddles, drifting away in water crafts... all images that carry us through the frozen winter awaiting warmer days ahead.
With spring weather at our doorstep, we are afforded the time to plan how to offer some love back to our lakes. And oh how important this is for future enjoyment of our lakeside dwellings and favourite watering holes.
So, how do you do it? Naturalize your shoreline!
A naturalized shoreline helps to:
✔️Restore and maintain lake health (tales at the dinner table of catching the “big one” remain),
✔️Improve water quality (it’s all about jumping in the lake and feeling refreshed on those hot summer days!),
✔️Minimize erosion (no one likes a squishy shoreline),
✔️Create new wildlife habitat (wildlife spotting makes being in cottage country all the more delightful.)
What all of this boils down to is continued enjoyment of our beloved lakes for generations.
Best yet, small actions make big impacts! With some simple actions you can ensure that your lake remains healthy for you to enjoy now and for your children and your grandchildren to enjoy for years to follow. Powerhouse Native Plants
Naturalizing shorelines by planting native wildflowers, trees and shrubs helps maintain and improve water quality, which keeps our lakes swimmable, drinkable* (*as in, not contaminated by algae blooms, and therefore not dangerous to ingest) and fishable. That’s all we could ever ask for!
Native plants have a deeper root system than non-native plants which means they will help with:
✔️Protection of water quality,
✔️Protection from erosion caused by waves and ice,
✔️Protection of property value.
Additionally, you can attract butterflies and other pollinators while supporting native plant populations in the maintenance of and attention to your shoreline. Check out our blog post Importance of Naturalizing a Property to further explore the benefits of native plants on your property.
*Bonus: When using plants around your shoreline that have a height over 2 feet tall, you are actually planting natural geese deterrents. Less geese = less E.coli from their feces = a healthier lake and a happier you. Yipee!
Shoreline Restoration project showcased on Love Your Lake
Understanding Your Shoreline
This is a chance to get to know your cottage property in the simplest of ways. This involves getting your hands dirty so call on the kids to help!
Calculate the slope to determine if your shoreline is susceptible to erosion. Golden rule here is: a sloping shoreline under 30% means less work to mitigate erosion damage.
Test the soil. You’ll want to know what you are working with so you can purchase the right type of native plants for your specific property. You’ll need to grab your trowel or small shovel to dig up soil near your shoreline. Take some soil between your fingers and feel for indicators or perform a moist soil cast. A balance of sand, silt, and clay is ideal but you can always find a native plant that will suit your specific properties needs regardless of the balance in soil composition.
Golden rule here is: grit in the soil indicates sand, a floury feel will indicate silt, and a smooth feel will indicate clay.
Take a look around! What type of trees, shrubs and flowers are already existing on your property? This will be a great clue as to what will do well on your shoreline. If there are mature trees on your shoreline, keep them! If they are obstructing your view, call on a professional Arborist like ArborView Tree Care or Outram Tree Solutions to come in and trim so you can maintain those sight lines to the lake. Golden rule here is: keep what you have and plant what you need. Trees should ideally be at least 4 feet apart and shrubs, while they can be planted in clumps, should be at least 2 feet apart to encourage mature growth.
Do you have a grass lawn? Stop cutting it down to the shoreline to maintain a healthy buffer zone (a.k.a the riparian area). This means less work for you in the summer!
Golden rule here is: 10 feet of buffer zone from the lake.
Remember, a view of the lake and a place for your family to play will not be limited in these actions… Instead, all of this love for your shoreline will truly enhance your enjoyment of your cottage property!
Where to Purchase Native Plants in the Haliburton Highlands?
It’s no secret that the local residents of the Haliburton Highlands see the importance of shoreline restoration and overall lake health. Here are a few businesses and not-for-profits that host native plant sales and workshops:
Further resources can be found on the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Association webpage for Shoreline Health, with two fantastic videos: Ribbon of Life and Beginner's Guide to Shoreline Stewardship. Love Your Lake is another wonderful resource that will help you discover the many ways in which you can, of course, give love to your lake (a free Native Plant Care Guide is also available when you sign up to their community.)
Happy planting everyone, from your friends at Cottage Care Rentals!