Weekly Hack: Fight erosion with plants

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High lake water—not to mention wind, ice, boat wake, and gravity—encourages shoreline erosion. Boo! Happily, a healthy population of native plants can help stabilize almost any shoreline slope or riverbank. (Plant root systems anchor soil in place.) Here are five species to plant to stabilize your shoreline naturally: 

Red osier dogwood

In the world of slope-holding, this shrub is a champ: quick-spreading and good-looking, with shiny dark red branches.

Creeping juniper

A short, cold-hardy groundcover that loves sandy soil and the sun.

Sweet gale

Another hardworking shoreline star. Sweet gale (a.k.a. myrica gale, a.k.a. bog myrtle) is a deciduous shrub with pleasantly-scented leaves. It’s so flood-resistant that it can thrive even in shallow water.

High-bush cranberry

A swamp-loving shrub with maple-like leaves and pretty white flower clusters in June and July. Pssst: elderberry, ninebark, and pincherry are also good soil stabilizers and produce white flowers in the summer.

Any native willow

Willows root rapidly and grow quickly, and they’re well adapted to wet environments all over Canada. Even submerged in water, their roots can survive for long periods of time.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: planting native species will help your shoreline in all kinds of ways. Consult your local native-plant nursery for suggestions.


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