Tips and Tools for Property Owners

Shoreline armoring | Green shore examples | Choosing the right design | Incentives

Green shorelines are growing in popularity from coast to coast. They are a viable alternative to stark armoring, which damage vital shoreline habitat and can increase problems on neighboring properties.

Design and Photo: Dar Webb
Landscape Architects

Property owners are finding they don't need to give up their beach for a bulkhead. Green shorelines benefit property owners by:

  1. Providing shoreline stability while substantially improving habitat for endangered salmon and other wildlife;
  2. Improving homeowner access for swimming and other water activities; and
  3. Offering a more natural aesthetic that can enhance views and add variety and seasonal interest.

Read success stories from property owners around Lake Washington.

Shoreline armoring

Shoreline armoring is the construction of bulkheads, seawalls, riprap "revetments" such as sandbags or cement, and any other structure to harden a shoreline against erosion. Green shorelines are alternative armoring designs that meet our needs while also protecting vital eco-functions of our shared waterways.

Puget Sound Shorelines - Bulkheads

Focus on Shoreline Armoring: Healthy Shorelines Equal a Healthy Puget Sound

Frequently Asked Questions: Marine Shoreline Armoring and Puget Sound

Green shore examples

Green shorelines come in many shapes and sizes depending on site conditions (like slope, proximity of structures to shore, and wave energy). MORE

Common types of designs include:

Beach Coves








Design and photo:
Ecco Design, Inc.

Bulkhead Setback

Design and photo: Marine Restoration and Construction, LLC










Design: The Watershed Company
Photo: City of Seattle

Shoreline Planting






Design: The Watershed Company
Photo: City of Seattle


Choosing the right design

The City of Seattle developed a decision tree to assist shoreline property owners in determining what restoration techniques would work best on their property. The decision tree makes choosing the right approach easier for property owners, consultants, and contractors.

Take a quiz to see what design will work for you

City of Seattle's Green Shorelines: Bulkhead Alternatives for a Healthier Lake Washington


Shoreline property owners may be open to green shoreline approaches, provided the cost is affordable and the permitting process is simplified.

Open Space Tax Act Public Benefit Rating System: Property owners may be eligible to receive a property tax reduction if they preserve the shoreline area on larger, less developed private shorelines. The Open Space Tax Act is implemented through each county. For example, see the King County Public Benefit Rating System. Check with your county Assessor for the rules that apply to this incentive program in your county.

Permit streamlining for stream fish habitat projects: Certain types of stream fish habitat projects that are approved from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are exempt from a local permits and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review. The project still needs to receive a Hydraulic Project Approval from WDFW and be consistent with the local Shoreline Master Program.