Pond and lake shorelines are prone to erosion, especially in warmer, humid areas. Erosion is caused by multiple factors. These include natural forces caused by weather phenomena, the chemical structure of the ground layers and water, as well as human factors. Simply put, there are many factors that negatively affect the stability of the bank and all of them must be considered during pond erosion control programs.
The loss of shoreline areas is particularly problematic for smaller lakes and ponds, especially near residential areas and inhabited communities. In many communities, the property lines and HOA easements are drawn relative to the lake or pond shore, and a change in this line can be problematic both legally and ecologically. Pond bank erosion control programs must be started and managed by the property owner closer to the waterfront. Stopping erosion is up to the homeowner or the association and is governed by local HOA laws. This means that both the owner and the HOA must decide what type of shoreline management strategies must be enforced and how the erosion can be prevented in the future.
What causes shoreline erosion? How can you start the pond bank erosion control program?
The most powerful erosional force is also the subtlest. You definitely noticed the lapping of ripples near the shoreline – this phenomenon initiates the loosening of saturated soils just above the water surface. This pulls the small particles apart, damaging the ground layers immediately next to the water surface. Much of the bank erosion occurs just beneath the water level. This means that it goes on unseen for years. It only gets exposed when the bank slumps. This small lapping of ripples is a slow process, it occurs under the water and can lead to serious shoreline damage.
Other factors that cause pond shoreline erosion are storms. The most sensitive ponds are stormwater ponds, which are specifically designed to fill and drain during each powerful storm. This repeated rise and fall of water levels damages the shorelines. The currents created pull away soil and can cause damage in just a matter of months. The water can also erode the areas next to the pipes that communicate with the other stormwater ponds. The concentrated flow can erode the deep gullies and holes, affecting the banks and other sensitive areas. Also, many ponds are designed to receive overflow water from other areas – these shallow swales concentrate sheet flow, which creates additional erosion, deep gullies, and depressions. Although not particularly dangerous, the erosion can evolve and become a serious issue if not handled correctly through an efficient pond erosion control program.
What can you do to stop pond and lake erosion?
Erosion is a long term, slow phenomenon. Unfortunately, there is very little a community can do in order to rapidly stop erosion. The solutions do exist, but they are invasive and require a lot of work. Let’s take a closer look:
Shore up the shorelines
Reinforcing the shoreline is one of the best ways to fight pond and lake erosion. This strategy does work and is applicable in most scenarios, but requires ample work and you will need a professional landscaping company to help you. The strategy is simple: the shorelines are remodeled according to a project and a layer of large rocks are placed on the shoreline, in order to protect it. Regular maintenance work will be required, in order to keep the shoreline straight. The rocks must be stacked side by side, in a rip trap formation – this layout makes the shore much more resistant to water damage and erosion. You will get adequate protection both during storms and drier months. Always contact a professional landscaping company to help you with this type of work.
Planting natural vegetation
Natural vegetation is one of the most effective ways to start your pond erosion control program. Natural vegetation is an amazing way to prevent natural shoreline erosion because the roots provide excellent retention for the entire shoreline area. The ground is kept in place even during powerful storms, and the erosion is minimal. What’s more, plants help create an amazing ecological environment for other flora and fauna. Plants are particularly effective in wet environments, where erosion can get out of control, especially during powerful storms.
Keeping large animals away
Large animals are a major factor that causes shoreline erosion. Whenever a large animal stomps the edge of the pond, the stability of the underlying layers is affected. In time, the soil breaks apart and lands into the water. The erosion process is activated and it can quickly get out of control. Although this issue is not of concern for everyone, it’s very important to avoid letting large animals near residential ponds or lakes. Try to install a small fence near the pond to keep animals away – livestock, bears or large dogs.
Fountains can cause erosion, especially if the pond is smaller and the water is not very deep. The waves created by the fountain can damage the shoreline, increasing the effects of erosion. To avoid this issue, try to move the fountain to the center of the pond, in order to minimize the waves. If not possible, reduce its water flow or turn it off completely. In some situations, you can turn it off during the night, in order to minimize erosion. Similarly, use diffusing systems instead of fountains – they provide an amazing effect and the erosion is minimal.
Can you use bulkheads for your pond bank erosion control program?
You definitely heard about bulkheads before, and they are effective against large scale erosion. But can you use them for your small pond as well? The answer is yes, but you will need professional assistance when you are installing them. Ideally, you should work with a professional landscaping company. The bulkheads are difficult to place and you will need a project. Also, the bulkheads must be anchored into the slope with a dead-man type of anchor. If you do not properly anchor the bulkheads, they can damage the shoreline, creating even more soil erosion.