Natural Shore Technologies |  612-703-7581 
April Article

Springtime Increases the Risk of Shoreline Erosion


As spring sets in and the ice melts off our lakes, water levels typically rise and the potential for shoreline erosion increases.  Soils become saturated higher along the shoreline banks, and this condition makes those areas more susceptible to wave action.   Bigger lakes experience more wave energy from wind, and in addition, they often play host to wave generating ski and wakeboard boats.  In general, native plant communities are able to better cope with high water levels, compared to turf grasses and ornamental plant species.  Many of our restoration projects have to do with transforming degraded shorelines back to ones that support a diversity of Minnesota native plants.  


High Water 

Minnesota native wetland and shoreline species are well adapted to tolerate a wide variety of soil moisture conditions and even flooding.  In contrast, turf grass will last maybe a week underwater before it starts to die.  For a majority of our projects, we introduce a suite of native species that flower at different times during the growing season.  These natives look great and provide essential shoreline habitat.  A few examples of these shoreline plants are blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), and blue flag iris (Iris versicolor). These native wildflowers also provide critical food and habitat for our pollinator species.


Wave Energy

Wind and boat traffic can produce some pretty substantial waves in our metro area lakes.  This wave energy can wash out and remove soil along the shore, especially during high water.  In conducting site assessments for our clients, part of our job is to figure out how to best stabilize eroded shorelines.  In most situations that we run into, we can use native plant communities to stabilize shores.  To protect shores early on in the restoration process, we may use biodegradable erosion fabric, and biologs (biodegradable logs filled with coconut fiber and wrapped in a coir twine material).  Native plants are introduced into these materials.  As the native plant community becomes established, these erosion control products will slowly decompose over time.   In some situations, planting a strip of native emergent vegetation (plants that grow in the water) in front of shorelines makes good sense.  This vegetation will break up and absorb wave energy, and also provides excellent fish and wildlife habitat.  Research the possibility of using arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum), hardstem bulrush (Scirpus acutus), and softstem bulrush (Scirupus validus) on your shoreline to create a lush, dense stand of these native plants.  


Traditional Turf Grass

Our European heritage taught us that turf around our property looks good and conveys proper care of the landscape.  Unfortunately, turf along lakeshores can create some pretty big problems. Turf grasses have extremely shallow roots and create a very thin thatch layer, which makes them quite poor at stabilizing soil at the water's edge.  In addition, turf along the shore can be considered a biological wasteland with extremely low diversity.  With our clients, we often talk about striking a balance among turf, recreational areas, and natural shoreline buffers.  A good design will allow for turf and high quality, beautiful, stable, natural shorelines.  Native plants have robust and deep root systems that naturally armor shorelines.  Maybe you have the opportunity to reduce your turf areas and use native plants to combat wave energy and create some exceptional habitat?


Spring is in the Air

Spring is officially here! If you have any questions about erosion problems or other early season issues facing your shoreline, feel free to contact us today! Give us a call or visit us online at We also want to stress that shoreline restoration can be very technical and complicated.  Before taking on a do-it-yourself project, we would like to encourage you to have a trained restoration professional review your plans.

Native Plant of the Month
Marsh Marigold     
Caltha palustris

Moisture: Wet
Exposure: Sun to Shade
Bloom: April-June
Color: Yellow
Height: 0.5-2 feet

Marsh Marigold has bright yellow, large buttercup-like flowers with rounded to kidney-shaped basal leaves. Flowers usually have 5 bright yellow petals and are about an inch and a half across with yellow stamens. The leaves are thick, with a waxy texture and about 4 inches long. Their stems are hollow.  Marsh Marigold thrives in partial shade along stream banks, marshes, fens, ditches, and wet woodlands. They most often grow in clumps.  It is an important nectar and pollen source for bees because it blooms early in the spring.  The plant was used by Native Americans for medicine.  Another common name is cowslip.
Invasive Plant of the Month
copyright 2013 K.Chayka

Oriental Bittersweet     

Celastrus orbiculatus


Exposure: Full Sun or Partial Shade


Height: 10-60 foot vine

Blooms: May- June


A perennial, woody vine that escaped from ornamental plantings, this Asian native has caused a lot of problems in the Eastern United States and is now found in Minnesota. It is considered a noxious weed and is on the prohibited eradicate list, meaning all parts of the plant must be destroyed when found. It is an early detection species meaning that while populations are found in Minnesota they are in small enough numbers to eradicate before they become an even bigger problem. This plant is often confused with the native American Bittersweet, which is sold in some nurseries. Oriental Bittersweet grows from seed or rhizomes, suckering out new branches that can strangle trees and block out light for native plants. Leaves can have variable shapes but are alternate with rounded teeth. Flowers are small and green and found in clusters. The fruit is green at first but turns bright red with a yellow outer shell that splits open.  The native American Bittersweet has a orange or red outer shell. The American Bittersweet also has its flowers and seeds at the end of their branches while the Oriental Bittersweet has them at the leaf axils, next to the main branch. Herbicide treatments help manage stands of Oriental Bittersweet. 

Pollinator of the Month
Black Female form

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Papilio glaucus


Range: Southern Canada down to Florida and then west to the Dakotas

Habitat: Woodlands and forest edges, parks, and gardens

Yellow form

Identification: Females can have a black form like the one pictured above. Males and other female Easter Tiger Swallowtails are yellow with black stripes. There are also a few dots of blue and bands of red on their hindwings.

Pollination: They feed on the nectar of many native plants like Wild Bergamot and Ironweed,but their favorites include Milkweed species and Joe Pye Weed. 

April 2015 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our Retail Nursery Reopens Thursday May 21st from 10am-1pm! All plants are native to Minnesota and grown pesticide free!

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events
Plymouth Yard and Garden Logo
Visit us Friday April 10th from 6pm-9pm and Saturday the 11th from 9am-1pm for the Plymouth Yard and Garden Expo at the Plymouth Creek Center!

Come get Native Plants at Burnsville's Native Plant Market Saturday May 30th from 9am to 1pm at 100 Civic Center Parkway (Parking lot across from City Hall) 

Summer Natives
We will be selling our Native plants at the Purple Martin Days on June 6th at Schroeder County Park in Annandale Minnesota!

Join us at the Minnetonka City Hall for their 2015 Eco Fun Fest where we will be selling native plants! Wednesday June 3rd!

Landscape Revival on Saturday June 6th from 9am to 3pm at the Community Pavilion at the Roseville Cub Foods.1201 Larpenteur Ave W, Roseville MN 55113