Discover Tips for Stabilizing Your Plymouth Shoreline

Native plants can prevent erosion and add beauty to your shoreline.

Owning lakefront property can be a dream come true—until you notice your shoreline being swallowed up by the lake through erosion. Such damage can leave homeowners wondering to what to do.

Rob Langer and Bill Bartodziej developed shoreline stabilization approaches for the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, but they found it difficult to readily find native aquatic and wetland plants. This plant shortage was their “a-ha” moment, prompting them to launch a business called Natural Shore which has a retail greenhouse that grows the necessary plants for restoration projects. Natural Shore also designs and implements shoreline restoration solutions.

Langer has a degree in water resources with a minor in hydrology. Bartodziej has a Master’s degree in biology. In their line of work, they see homeowners making common mistakes along their shoreline. “People often think they’re doing what’s best by cleaning up and removing dead trees or fallen leaves,” says Langer, “but those can be good things for breaking waves and providing fish habitats. The neat look can also facilitate erosion and have negative impacts on lake water quality.

“It’s fairly simple to improve the lakeshore,” Langer says. “The farther you keep your turf grass from the lake, the better. Leave a 10–15 no-mow buffer along the lake. Grass clippings break down and fuel green algae production in the water. This buffer also helps keep fertilizers and pesticides farther from the water.” Natural Shore helps homeowners take the next step by designing and planting native plants and grasses to stop erosion and beautify property.

Gretchen Lennon noticed shoreline erosion at her home on Medicine Lake. Says Lennon, “I wondered if we needed large boulders to stop it.”

Langer thinks rocks are overused in shoreline stabilization. “Stones can limit your view, reduce diversity of plant material and create a barrier to turtles, insects and amphibians that need to make the trek to shore.” Natural Shore only uses Minnesota native plants along with biodegradable erosion control materials.

Lennon learned about the natural approach at a free seminar about gardening and shoreline restoration. She says, “I realized this makes sense. It cost less than boulders, it’s prettier and the slope toward our shoreline was difficult to mow, but I’m not an expert so we contacted Rob at Natural Shore. They were great. I explained that I wanted more of a garden feel instead of random plantings. Clusters of similar plants with a path to the shore and a shorter native grass border along the turf grass that’s closer to the house. It turned out great.

“The first people to notice and give a thumbs up were fishermen. Of course they like it because it’s better for the fish. Then a neighbor said our shoreline is so relaxing and pretty to look at when driving by in their boat. Plus the wildlife and butterflies are amazing! We don’t trim it down until spring, letting it provide texture, color and bird activity throughout winter.”

Langer notes that homeowners need not restore their entire shoreline. “Too much demand on a natural resource can deteriorate shorelines and water quality, but there can be a compromise between human use and restoration. We want to restore shorelines and make them beautiful at the same time.”



Looking for native plants for your own shoreline restoration project? A few of Langer’s favorites include:

Iris versicolor

Blue Flag Iris

Asclepias incarnata

Swamp Milkweed

Lobelia siphilitica

Blue Lobelia

Carex lacustris

Lake Sedge

Spartina pectinata

Prairie Cordgrass

Available at Natural Shore Retail Greenhouse, 5300 Hwy. 12, Maple Plain; 612.703.7581;