Limiting the Risk of Erosion

To minimize the risks from erosion to your property:

  • Establish or maintain a buffer zone between your yard and the water. Buffer zones are areas of densely planted or naturally occurring vegetation composed of trees, shrubs and plants along bluffs and streams. They hold soils in place. This helps to prevent erosion, as well as prevents sediment from washing into the water. When developing your site, do so with minimal disturbance, leaving as much native vegetation as possible, including an undisturbed vegetation buffer along the top of the bluff. If you choose to plant trees on a slope or along streams, use bare rootstock and plant directly into the native soils of your site. Mulching heavily around the planting helps retain moisture and prevents erosion.
  • Plant bare areas. Bare soils will erode or invite weeds. When planting, use hardy, deep-rooted native species appropriate to the site, except when it’s over your drainfield. Choose trees and shrubs to stabilize the soil and provide erosion control (Table 1). These species have large, complex root systems that help hold soils.
  • Consider building location. Locate your home, outbuilding or patio deck, sufficiently far from the water or bluff so it is not susceptible to erosion or landslides. Resist the urge to trade off safety for the sake of a slightly improved view.
  • Divert runoff away from the bluff face. Excessive groundwater and surface water runoff are leading causes of landslides and bluff erosion. Coordinate with neighbors to avoid concentrating runoff, if possible.
  • Plan your beach access for minimal erosion. Paths can cause erosion that goes straight to the beach and into the water. When possible, consider sharing access with neighbors to minimize disturbance and cost. Consider building a “hybrid” system (a combination of trail, ladder, winding paths and stairs) to limit disturbance on the bluff.
  • Consider natural erosion protection methods. Try using beach logs or downed trees to protect your shoreline. Engineered bulkheads only encourage erosion, often on your neighbor’s property.
  • Do not dump yard waste over the edge of your bluff. It sets the stage for future erosion because these piles of green waste smother native plants holding fragile slopes in place. Even small heaps of grass clippings can take years to break down. To learn more, please refer to Guideline 1.