Does your shoreline have a Natural Edge?

By Rebecca Willison and Rebecca Krawczyk.

We are naturally attracted to aesthetic places and clean water—and so are the creatures we share this land and water with. The riparian zone (where water meets land) and the littoral zone (the submerged area of shoreline where sunlight still penetrates through to the lake bottom) is also called the ‘Ribbon of Life’. 70% of all of Ontario’s wildlife depends on shorelines for many aspects of their survival—and this ribbon is key. They use these shoreline areas to find food, water, shelter, to reproduce and raise their young, and to sunbathe. As waterfront landowners, and stewards of our shorelines, we need to keep these creatures and their needs in mind as well as ours.

The Natural Edge Shoreline Re-Naturalization Program logo

The Natural Edge Shoreline Re-naturalization program was developed by Watersheds Canada to provide waterfront property owners with the resources needed to create and maintain a healthy waterfront. With funding support from the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the Love Your Lake program, The Natural Edge program compliments the many stewardship activities already being undertaken by lake associations and individual Muskokans.

The benefits of having a natural shoreline are well documented. For instance,

  • plant roots retain the earth and soil on which we walk to get to the lake to go for a swim;
  • shoreline plantings maintain and improve water quality by reducing the incidences of soil erosion and sedimentation, therefore protecting fish habitat;
  • waterfront vegetation slows water flow over land and filters over-land pollutants through roots and shoots;
  • plant branches and blades disperse water runoff and absorb excess nutrients, such as phosphorous, which can produce algae blooms in waterways; and
  • shoreline plants provide oxygen to aquatic ecosystems.

However, getting that natural shoreline if you don’t have one already can seem like a daunting task. That’s where The Natural Edge comes in. We can guide you step by step through the process, beginning with a free site visit where we discuss issues you would like to address on your property (i.e. deer, geese or beaver, invasive species, erosion) as well as a vision for what you would like to accomplish. We take photos and measurements and can develop a shoreline planting plan during the site visit that can act as a roadmap for your re-naturalization project.

We can also help you get your project started with the Shoreline Re-naturalization Starter Kit! For just $250, the Starter Kit includes 50 native plants of your choosing (subject to availability), coconut fibre mats, mulch, tree guards and booklets on how to properly install and maintain your plantings. We supply the plants and materials, and you supply the labour!

Learn more about the Natural Edge program and book a site visit at