Shoreline conservation plants

Asked June 14, 2017, 10:55 AM EDT

My family owns a home on the Potomac in Charles County. Ever since the Pepco Plant was built, we have struggled with shoreline erosion. We have repeatedly built and rebuilt a "hard" barrier sea wall, which is clearly not the answer. The bank slopes steeply up to the yard, roughly 10 feet above the shoreline. Fortunately, the house is about 25 feel from the top of the slope. Currently there is nothing planted on the slope except for lawn and a few large pine trees. I have been thinking that planting the slope thickly with shrubs and small trees would stabilize it.I would need salt tolerant, hardy shrubs, ground cover and small trees that can be purchased in Southern Maryland. The total area of the bank is roughly 10 feet wide from the top of what remains of the sea wall and about 60 feet wide. On one end, the neighbors have a well maintained seawall. On the other end, the shore line is unprotected for about 20 feet. When I was a small child, in the 1960's, the shore was lined with clay "tufts" topped with marsh grass. After the power plant began operating the tufts disappeared and we started getting shoreline erosion. Ideally, I would like to plant water plants to replace the ones that were lost. The ones that used to grow probably won't thrive since the overall water temperature has changed but I thought something native to further south might. I though of sinking some cylinders of plastic lathing lined with mesh along the shoreline and filling them with a clay-rich soil planted with suitable plants. This would replicate the "tufts" that used to protect the shoreline. Is there another way to recreate the "tufts". My brother, who controls my parents' estate, is opposed to removing what's left of the sea wall and the large stone rip rap so I will have to work around that. For the time being, we are managing the property from fairly long distance and there will be fairly large gaps between our visits. We need something to plant that won't require much attention after it is established. If the average height of shrubs is 10 feet or less, it won't interfere with the view. Eventually, I would like to build a deck out over the bank but that shouldn't disturb the plantings. I live in Florida and here we would use Red and White Mangrove and Sea Grape but they can't tolerate the cold.I am passionate about the environment and I am hoping that you can advise me on a more sustainable way of managing the erosion. Our cottage has been in our family for more than 60 years and I would like my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy it. Thank you.

Charles County Maryland shoreline conservation

1 Response

This sounds like you may need a site visit for the best way to proceed. You may have to contact several agencies.
Start with your local planning office in Charles County

MD Dept of Natural Resources Shore Erosion Control

and MDE Wetlands and Waterways