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Native shoreline plantings are relatively new ideas. Because of this, it takes a little more work to plan and install them compared to more traditional shoreline management. However, this site will help you every step of the way, so keep reading to do your part for water quality!

Planting Plans

You can customize your shoreline planting to not only improve water quality but also fit it to your own landscape preferences or needs.  Do you have a lot of shade in your yard?  Do you want to make sure plants don’t get too tall and block your view of the water?  Or would you like a planting that attracts birds and butterflies?  See below for easy to understand planting plans and plant lists to help you begin your project.

Shoreline Planting

The planning and construction of a simple native shoreline planting can usually be a do-it-yourself project; however in some instances, it may be necessary or desirable to hire a professional. You want to make sure the professional you hire is able to design your project to your satisfaction and also fulfill city or state requirements (if there are any).  When you are looking for a professional, use recommendations from neighbors, online resources and other databases, or consult your local Soil and Water Conservation District.  In addition, the Clear Choices, Clean Water team has compiled this list of Indiana shoreline contractors and native plant suppliers.  The following are all good questions to ask potential candidates to ensure you will be satisfied with their work:

  • What experience do you have with native shoreline plantings?
  • Are you willing to work with homeowners?
  • Are you knowledgeable about local and state requirements or permits?
  • Can you help me find an appropriate design for my shoreline?
  • Are you experienced in erosion control practices necessary for shoreline plantings?

The State of Indiana has developed a great publication that can help you with your shoreline planting – whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a contractor.  The Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality: Indiana Addendum contains case studies from around the state as well as information on native plants, cost estimates, and rules and regulations that may apply.  The State of Minnesota’s Restore Your Shore Program is another great resource you may find helpful – click here to visit their website.

Healthy Shores Initiative

The accepted norm on many Indiana lakes is to have a mowed lawn up to the edge of a concrete seawall or to the lakeshore.  Healthy shorelines (and adjacent lawns) have an abundance of native plants both on the land and in the water, which work to filter pollutants out of runoff, deter nuisance wildlife, stabilize the shoreline, and slow wave action.  Glacial stone (or rock) seawalls are also an improvement over concrete because they provide stabilization to the shoreline while also minimizing wave action.  Homeowners often worry that a natural shoreline will look messy, but with proper planning a natural shoreline can be an incredibly beautiful, low-maintenance landscape feature without interfering with recreation. The Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation has developed additional information that can assist lakeshore homeowners in installing:



In some cities or towns, like Indianapolis, it may be necessary to register your native planting so that it can be recognized and monitored.  In other areas, this may not be necessary, but you might still like to get some recognition for the work you’re doing for our environment.  The Indiana Wildlife Federation offers a certification program for backyards, neighborhoods, businesses, schoolyards, and just about any other property.  Once a property is certified, the landowner has the option to install a nice sign identifying the area as wildlife-friendly.


Need a permit?

You might need a permit to work along a shoreline. If you are working along a public freshwater lake, download this flowchart.  If you are working anywhere else, this easy-to-use handbook will help you determine who to contact first!

    Want help designing your shoreline planting?

    View the below links for some great resources. 


      Want to plant natives in a dry area of your yard, too?

      Download our native planting area plans to create a native flowerbed in your yard

      Need more help selecting plants?

      The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website recommends native species for each state and a variety of situations.