When designing and installing lakeshore projects, Southview works with the DNR or watershed districts to be sure we follow their guidelines and restrictions. There are several factors to take into account. Here is a breakdown of a few goals to keep in mind when working with shorelines

Preventing Erosion

The main cause of erosion is wave action, either from wind or boats.What makes erosion worse?

  • Removal of native plants along the lakeshore.
  • Common recreational activities too close to the shore.
  • Removal of ice ridges.
Boulder wall prevents erosion from waves.

Boulder wall prevents erosion from waves.

Erosion buffer of tall aquatic grasses.

Vegetative buffer protects the shoreline from erosion.


  • Install a buffer zone of native grasses between the lakeshore and your mowed lawn.
  • Install a biolog, stabilizing roots of vegetation as it grows so that it can effectively take root and prevent future erosion.
  • If vegetation is not an option, install rock or boulders as a buffer.

Preserving Water Quality and Health

Issue: Installing sod/lawn right up to the shore of the lake can cause several problems:

  • Erosion.
  • Fertilizer runoff into lake, causing algae blooms.
  • Algae bloom kills fish by blocking their oxygen.
  • Pet waste, pesticides, herbicides and other debris to runoff into the lake.
  • Humans and animals should not be using contaminated water.

Before: Algae blooms where fertilizer runs off the lawn into the lake.

After: Clear waters with a buffer of boulders and future garden bed.


Create a “buffer zone” of native plants, trees and flowers. This strip keeps human activity out of the shore-impact zone, creating a natural, beautiful, clean shoreline.

Create Habitats for Native Plants and Animals


  • Animal/plant habitat loss
  • Fertilizers and pesticides running into the water
  • Removing down natural grasses and trees to install sod
  • Purposely killing the “weeds” in the water
Backyard with established evergreen habitat.

Established evergreens provide shelter and habitat for birds and wildlife.


Replace traditional mowed lawns near the shore with native grasses, shrubs, flowers and trees.This requires little maintenance and plants love their native habitat. Native grasses and flowers will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, and other important pollinators to the lakeshore.

More information

Below are some links to helpful Minnesota DNR explanations, guidelines and instructions on how to restore your shore.

Shoreline Alterations: Natural Buffers and Lakescaping

Healthy Shorelines

The Water's Edge: Helping fish and wildlife on your lakeshore property

Chantel Dowell headshot

This blog post is by Chantel Dowell, an intern with Southview Design from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, studying environmental planning and conservation

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