A blue cottage sits by a lake with long weeds at the shore, showing one way to protect your cottage’s shoreline from erosion

Your cottage is a place of serenity away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But if your getaway is on a lake, your shoreline could be compromised if you're not taking steps to maintain it. Erosion to your shoreline not only leaves wildlife without shelter and food sources, but over time, it can also affect the structural integrity of your buildings and cause costly property damage.

Protect your lake's ecosystem and your cottage property with these tips to prevent shoreline erosion.

What is shoreline erosion?

Shoreline erosion is a natural process where the soil is gradually displaced from the shores of rivers, lakes, and oceans, but human activity and environmental factors can speed up the process. Over time, this can harm your waterfront property and the environment.

What causes shoreline erosion?

From human activity to severe weather, many factors can worsen shoreline erosion around your cottage:

  1. Ice buildup in the winter. When the water freezes, sheets of ice can rub up against the shore and wear down the soil and vegetation. This natural process worsens when water levels are high and winters are cold and long..
  2. Strong waves. If your cottage is on a lake with large waves or you have neighbours who often produce wakes from their speedboats, your shoreline is at a higher risk of breaking down..
  3. The removal of vegetation around the shore. While many people prefer a clean and manicured shoreline, removing necessary vegetation, wild plants, and trees leaves your shoreline vulnerable and will speed up the erosion process.
  4. Installing seawalls at the shore. Seawalls used to be a popular method to prevent erosion, but they actually redirect and increase the force of waves, making erosion worse.

Strong waves, ice buildup, and a lack of aquatic vegetation could be eroding your cottage's shoreline. Check out these tips to protect your property and the environment.

How you can prevent shoreline erosion

You can make a big splash in reducing shoreline erosion around your cottage by taking these preventative measures:

  1. Create a no-mow zone by the shore. If your cottage has a grassy lawn leading to the water, try not to mow the last 3 metres (10 feet) by the shoreline to allow deeply rooted grass to grow and stabilize the soil.
  2. Leave native aquatic plants alone. Water weeds may seem unpleasant and gross to swim through, but they're important to maintaining a healthy and strong shoreline. Refrain from pulling the plants in the water, and plant more native vegetation if your shoreline lacks well-established plant life.
  3. Keep large, established trees on your property. Everyone wants a nice view of the lake from their waterfront cottage, but removing trees from your shoreline could be speeding up erosion. Trees absorb excess water runoff and their strong roots help maintain the surrounding soil's structural integrity.
  4. Install a riprap revetement. While a seawall can't prevent erosion, a riprap revetement can make a big difference. Riprap is a sloped structure of large, soft rocks (e.g., limestone, dolomite, and quartzite) that absorbs waves and protects the soil at the edge of your shoreline. Always hire a professional to help install your riprap properly.

Your cottage provides a great way to get out and connect with nature. Follow these simple measures to protect your shoreline, help the environment, and keep your waterfront cottage structurally sound for future generations.

Before your next trip to the cottage, check off these essential items for a safe cottage getaway.

Have friends or family with a cottage on the water? Share these tips to Facebook or Twitter to help them preserve their shoreline, too.