Healthy shorelines are simply lake edges planted with shrubs, trees or perennials instead of lawn to the water's edge. These plants have lots of benefits over lawn because they:
Everyone can create a healthy shoreline that is good for the lake. You can start small by simply not mowing your shoreline lawn or planting a few new shrubs along the lake's edge. You can also create a whole new shoreline border by following the five steps below.
You can create a healthy, attractive shoreline that is also good for the lake by replacing some of your shrubs, perennials, or trees while still preserving your views and lake access. Interested shoreline owners can receive FREE northwest native plants to help improve their residential shoreline. The County will provide free native plants suitable for lakeshore edges. Landowners then agree to maintain them. See our Shoreline Planting Flyer for more information.
This opportunity is available to all qualifying County lake landowners willing to create a 15-feet deep shoreline planting. Properties with permit-required shoreline mitigation do not qualify, yet are still eligible for a free LakeWise visit and guidance on successful shoreline plantings.
Making your shoreline work for your lifestyle is important. Start by thinking about how you use your shoreline and what plants can do for you. Strategic landscaping can define outdoor spaces, attract wildlife, provide privacy and much more. Look around your lake, through the resources on this page or on the internet for ideas. Things to consider might be:
The next step is to come up with a planting plan that accomplishes your goals with plants that will thrive at your site with minimal care. Start by making a simple map of your shoreline and note the following:
Once you know your site, you're ready to start selecting plants. We have created a list of plants (PDF) that thrive on lake shorelines.
You can refer to the list and select your favorites that fit the conditions of your yard. We have also provided some sample shoreline design plans to give you ideas on how to lay out your selected plants for different conditions.
A guide to plants best suited for your lake shoreline.
Information about FREE native plants for qualifying lake landowners
King County Native Plant Program Great resource for native plants
Raingarden Handbook - more plant choices and maintenance tips
You can convert your lawn to a landscape bed with minimal effort and without using herbicides. The process is called sheet mulching. Sheet mulching smothers the turf grass with a layer of cardboard covered by wood chips. Not only do you avoid having to dig out turf, but sheet mulching leaves you with rich, fertile soil with minimal weeds. Simply follow these easy steps:
For best results, wait three to four months before planting. For each planting hole, pull aside the wood chips before digging each plant in and then rake the wood chips back around each plant. Refer to the "Growing Healthy Soils (PDF)" publication for more information on compost, mulch and sheet mulching.
Set up your shoreline landscape for success by planting right from the outset. Here's how:
Interested shoreline owners can receive FREE northwest native plants to help improve their residential shoreline. The County will provide free native plants suitable for lakeshore edges. Landowners then agree to maintain them. See our Shoreline Planting Flyer for more information.
Over time, your new shoreline buffer will be fairly low maintenance. However, for the first two to three years your new planting will require some watering, mulching and weed control while the plants establish.
Read up on these authors' ideas for landscaping: