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Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes

Shoreline Access and Landscaping

Scummy water

As a waterfront property owner you need access to your shoreline for various activities. Any kind of regular access through your buffer to the water’s edge can have an impact on the sensitive soils and fragile banks, which are often associated with shorelines. You can minimize these effects with the following recommendations:

•    Avoid a steep path that cuts straight down to the water; use gentle S-curve switchbacks instead
•    On steep slopes, build stairs with landings instead of a trail to access the waterfront; stairs make shoreline access easier and safer, help your shoreline withstand frequent use and decrease erosion; strategically placed landings also give you a place to rest and enjoy the view
•    Add a step or two on the trail, especially where the slope has a greater than 10 per cent incline
•    When constructing trails, place them in areas where they will not interfere with runoff

Stairs, Decks and Other Structures

Wooden staircase leading to the shoreline

When constructing stairs, decks, gazebos or other structures, consider some structural procedures to make them environmentally friendly as well as functional.
•    Build a boardwalk, stairs or deck 10 to 50 centimetres over vegetation, with boards spaced 2.5 centimetres apart and no backs on stairs. This will allow sunlight and rain to penetrate between the boards, allowing vegetation to grow underneath; vegetation will keep soils intact and protect against erosion
•    Avoid removing ground cover from areas that may easily erode, such as areas beside structures
•    Try to use materials that are environmentally friendly and do not contain chemicals


Did you know that creosote is a combination of chemicals that is used to preserve wood and railway ties? Do not use railway ties or other creosote-preserved materials for any of your projects. The chemicals not only put your and your family’s health at risk, but as they leach from the treated wood they also contaminate soil and water. 

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