Our Projects

Bio-Engineering Shorelines

One July WoodSpirit Gardens received a letter from the city of East Gull Lake, that said in part, "to legally install shoreline RipRap in its jurisdiction, a special permit is now required." East Gull Lake and the Department of Natural Resources have discovered that the aggressive use of RipRap is having a cumulatively negative impact on the lakes.  This letter confirms what we have observed in recent years. 

The piling of rocks far up the shoreline to stop erosion has not worked. In many cases, it has made matters worse.  What is the solution to lakeshore erosion and degrading water quality? 

Native vegetation, like Dogwoods, Cottonwoods and Alders are uniquely designed, sending deep into the ground intense root mats that not only hold the soil in place, but also filter the runoff from roofs, driveways, and yards thus helping keep the lakes clean. They require little or no maintenance once established. They are bright green in the spring and often sport flowers, are colorful in the fall, and provide food and shelter to birds and animals that we enjoy so much. 

Some say they do not like the look of the native vegetation, they feel that it appears ‘messy’ and blocks the view of the lake. We at WoodSpirit Gardens feel that with some careful pruning, the natives actually provide a frame for the view and a lovely mantle for the earth, unlike any other place and one of the reasons we came here. Whereas piles of rock often look quite unnatural, reflecting sunlight, creating a harsh scene devoid of softening vegetation or animal life.

The above picture shows shoreline erosion. Five years earlier the shoreline was at the end of these steps.

After 3 or 4 years, the coconut fiber becomes shoreline. The native plants root into the log re-establishing native plant communities. This protects the shoreline and invites the butterflies and birds to take up residence once again.

Since young plants are vulnerable to wave action and runoff in the first years of planting, new products have become available to aid in the restoration of a natural shoreline. WoodSpirit Gardens is a distributor of 2 products currently on the market known to be most effective in shoreline protection and restoration.
1) ShoreSox, a modular system that consists of a Midwest produced product, that is corn stalks, in a bio and photo degradable bag that come in approximately 3 and 6 foot lengths by 1.5 feet high. They can be easily linked together to fit to the particularities of any shoreline situation. Within 24 hours of installation, ShoreSox are approximately 50% saturated illustrating its unique ability to provide water and nutrients to new aquatic growths.  Visit www.shoresox.com for more information. 

2) Coconut or Coir Logs.  This is a product made of the coconut husks that are usually discarded. It comes in 10 and 20 foot lengths and various diameters. Because they come in such long sections they have few splices where wave action can continue undermining the shoreline. Like ShoreSox, the Coir logs absorb water, defuse wave energy, filter runoff, and most importantly, provide habitat for the reestablishment of native plants. 

Both ShoreSox and Coir material are completely bio-degradable and/or photo-degradable.

We have found that ice heaves usually do not have a detrimental effect on either of these products as they move with the ice instead of resisting it. They can be manually repositioned should they be moved by extreme conditions.

Both these items are normally a waste product but now prove to be a cost effective way to protect our earth while providing an income to those who work with the earth every day, farmers and third world countries.

With all of our projects and with the use of the above products, we endeavor to follow all the necessary guidelines and permits as establisthed by Minnesota and Wisconsin State and county governing bodies.

We use 100% biodegradable coconut fiber logs and mats as planting mediums. The logs are anchored with wooden stakes and judicious use of stone at the waters edge. These logs both absorb the shock of wave action and provide a protected place for plants to take root. The fiber mats are staked to the ground and native plants are sown into the ground under the mats where the coconut fiber acts as a mulch. This process helps keep the earth moist, giving the young plants a much better chance of growing to maturity and thereby protecting the shoreline from future damage. 
For more information on how to protect the vital and sensitive environment found between dry land and water, how to keep our lakes pristine, and how to give shelter to the fauna that depend more and more on us, obtain a copy of the book ‘Landscaping for Wildlife and Water Quality’ published by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or contact WoodSpirit Gardens. We would be glad to help.

162 State Highway 371 NW   |   Backus, Minnesota 56435   |   218-947-3663   -   888-947-2414