Chapter Four - Shoreline Management

Protecting the shoreline

Homeowners and Lake associations can implement many practices that will help to reduce lake pollution and protect water quality. Appropriate landscaping, reduced use of fertilizers and pesticides, proper maintenance of septic systems, and judicious use of household products are discussed below. Before beginning any activity, think about potential pathways and risks to water quality from soil erosion, chemical amendments, and yard waste.

Shoreline Development: Lakeside Building

Shoreline development can hurt a lake. The shorelines and wetlands act as a buffer between water and land as they trap nutrients, filter pollutants, retard erosion, and provide habitats for plants and animals.
Shoreline development directly affects lakes in two ways. First, wildlife habitats and buffering capacity are lost through destruction of the natural vegetation around lakes. Second, pollution from increased surface runoff and nutrient additions from fertilized lawns and septic systems can affect lake water quality.

Landscaping: Lawns and gardens

Lawns and gardens adjacent to lakes must be carefully planned and maintained to prevent contamination of surface and ground waters. Consider native vegetation as a quality alternative to cultured lawns and landscapes because it provides a more diverse and balanced plant community and habitat. Contact a nursery that supplies native plants for species best adapted for your needs.
Shoreline Management Regulations prohibit intensive removal of vegetation near the shore or on steep slopes. Check with your local jurisdiction for specific regulations.

Take steps to offset problems which could occur under the following conditions:

A balanced approach to waterfront landscaping retains some natural habitat and reduces pollution and erosion while also meeting your aesthetic and access needs.

Fertilizers: Growth stimulators

Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers if possible. Native vegetation does not require the application of additional fertilizer. Compost or manure is preferable to chemical fertilizers; however, they can degrade (damage) water quality if used in excessive amounts.

If you apply fertilizers to lawns and gardens, adhere to the following guidelines:

Pesticides: Insect and weed control

Avoid the use of chemical pesticides if possible. Consult a professional from the Washington State University Cooperative Extension Service to determine alternative methods for pest controls if needed.


The following practices will minimize the potential of contamination from pesticides:

Landscaping: Example of a lake-friendly landscape plan


Riparian Zone: Lady fern, sedges (many species), blue flag iris. 

Lower Bank

Shrubs: red osier dogwood, red elderberry, evergreen huckleberry
Ground Covers: lady fern, bunchberry, sword fern;
Shade Trees: chokecherry, Oregon ash, western hemlock;
Shade & Cover: vine maple, western crabapple, hazelnut.

Upper Bank

Shrubs: serviceberry, mock orange, red flowering current;
Ground Covers: salal, sword fern, pick-a-back; Shade Trees: chokecherry, Oregon ash, western hemlock, Shade and Cover: vine maple, western crabapple, hazelnut.

Septic Systems: They need to be maintained


Without routine maintenance a properly installed septic system should not pollute the lake. The following practices will reduce contamination from septic systems.

Hazardous Household Products: Cleaners can be toxic


Many common household cleaners and products contain ingredients that are corrosive, toxic, or flammable. When used or disposed of improperly, these products can affect personal health and safety and can also contaminate ground water and soil, eventually polluting our lakes.

Think before buying household cleaning and maintenance products. General purpose products may work as well as products developed for a specific surface or appliance. Purchase water-based nontoxic or less toxic products rather than solvent-based paints and cleaners. Alternatives to hazardous cleaning products are cheaper and some are equally effective. Information on these alternatives is available from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

If you must use a hazardous product, read the label carefully before purchasing. Make sure the product will do what you want it to. Buy only the amount you need. If you cannot use it all, give it to someone who can.

Exotic Species: Foreign invasion


Exotic species, organisms introduced into habitats where they are not native, are considered to be severe threats to our lakes. They are a major cause of the continuing loss of biological diversity throughout the world and have caused extinction of some native species.

In the absence of predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors from their native habitat, species introduced into new habitats often overrun their new home and crowd out native species. Once established, exotics rarely can be eliminated. Examples of exotic species are common cordgrass (Spartina angelica), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). State law prohibits the sale, distribution, or planting of these and other exotics.

You can take the following actions to minimize the spread of exotic plants and animals:

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