Lakeshore property and rising Lake Michigan

Asked August 28, 2019, 11:50 AM EDT

Our Lake Michigan property sports a natural habitat, unlike our neighbors who have razed portions of the lakefront property to add ornamental plants. I am wondering what plants, if any, can I add to strengthen the ground cover against the rising lake levels. Does the lake always win? I am interested in indigenous plants only. Currently we have about 100 feet of seagrass that leads up to a mange of Michigan plants, including lilacs, milkweed, lilies, and a range of "weeds". Thank you!

Washtenaw County Michigan

2 Responses

Hello, and thank you for using eXtension for your dune stabilization and native plants question. I sounds like you are doing all the right things to maintain a natural environment on your dune. Yes, leaving the natives in place is a great start. loving nature in all of its modes is a an excellent approach. Landscaping is not a bad thing per-se but it is much more work to maintain.

To answer your question about lake levels and lost beach and dune face, yes, the lake always wins. Rising water levels, combined with the waves and wind are reducing our beaches and eating away at the foredunes. Grasses and other native vegetation do help but in some cases are no match for a good storm surge.

Planting with natives are desirable because if they are washed away at least you are not contributing invasive plant to somewhere else. Some plants to consider are: beach or dune grasses are great, little blue stem, dry prairie plants and seed mixes; lance-leaved coreopsis, butterfly weed, bearberry, creeping juniper, cottonwood. Here is a website to a list from EGLE: Keep up the good work!

Thank you for your response and for the list of plants, and for the additional web resource.