Steps & Techniques: Designing Your Shoreline
Developing a Working Plan: Functional Diagrams
The Base Map is a historical document. It describes your property before you started your project.
Now, you will go through a series of steps to develop a Working Plan—an action-oriented document that describes what you want the shoreline to look like when you finish your project.
If you've determined that "Protect" is the approach you will take to manage your shoreline, a design is not needed except for possibly creating an access path and dock area and pruning to improve views. If "Prevent Disturbance" is the approach you've selected, your plan may include areas where the disturbance is removed. However, if your shoreline requires the "Plant Native Species" approach, this section will help you design your new native shoreline.
The design process begins with the creation of Functional Diagrams. Integrate the data you have acquired into a basic functional layout.
In this case, we will use "bubble" shapes to define functional spaces:
- Highlight areas for preservation
- Identify the buffer setback zone
- Activity areas (lawn, swimming area, beach dock)
- Screening (with taller vegetation)
- Other uses, preferences
TIP: Use a garden hose, rope, flagging, or stakes to demarcate the outlines of your activity areas, such as walking paths. This will help you visualize the actual size and shape of your plans.
Review your Functional Diagrams. Refine your favorite, perhaps even combining it with components of the others.
The result of this process is the Preliminary Design.
The Master Plan
You have probably noticed that designing a shoreline restoration project is an evolutionary process. We started out with broad concepts of what was needed and what we wanted.
Gradually, our design began to take shape as we "roughed out" our diagrams and draft designs. Now, from our Preliminary Design, we are able to produce the Master Plan. The Master Plan is a more finished, detailed representation of the earlier preliminary stages.
You may not be comfortable or able to do all parts of a shoreland project yourself. Private consultants specializing in native plant restorations can provide assistance for all or parts of your project. Interview them to make sure they are experienced with native lakeshore plantings.
See sample interview questions to assist you with selecting private consultants.
Professional resources also include natural resource managers and environmental specialists in government agencies, such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Other excellent resources include educators and volunteers with the University of Minnesota Shoreland Extension Service and the Master Gardener Program. Look to these organizations and agencies to provide technical assistance and to review the work you have done so far.
TIP: It is a good idea to talk to your neighbors and your lakeshore association about your plans. Since others may also share the problems you have, you may find your neighbors interested in your project and possibly willing to participate. The resources listed above may also be available to provide support in making a presentation to your neighbors and lakeshore association.