Seeding along a shoreline can be complicated. Remember that you are dealing with water and with wave action. You are also working with soil that ranges from wet to moist, partially moist to dry. Erosion is a serious concern under these circumstances.
Site preparation is essentially the same as noted earlier for live plants.
TIP: Keep newly seeded areas moist for at least 3 weeks, the minimum time required for seeds to fully germinate.
Lakeshore Seeding - Till the area that is to be seeded. Avoid, if possible, tilling within 15' of the lakeshore or on steep embankments. In that case, it is better to use living plants that can be mulched and take hold quickly, or to use a combination of seed and plants planted into dead turf.
15' Beyond Shoreline - Above the 15' zone, erosion control measures must be used. Add oats or rye to the seed mix as a temporary cover crop. "Regreen" is another cover crop that can be used. They will germinate quickly - establishing roots and providing stability. Erosion control blankets will also be helpful.
Slopes & Grades - A firmly staked erosion control blanket should be used to hold seed and soil on steep slopes. This will help prevent erosion and retain moisture.
Patience - Perennials are slow to start from seed but will improve over time. Weed management and watering are essential during this critical establishment period.
There are several different methods of seeding along the shoreline. The size and other physical characteristics of your site, as well as the availability of any necessary machinery, will be deciding factors.
On larger areas, machine seeding, drill seeding, and hydroseeding may be appropriate methods. Refer to your local Soil & Water Conservation District professionals or local seed suppliers for information on these approaches.
On smaller areas, broadcast seeding by hand is usually an effective method, and will be explained here.
Broadcast Seeding by Hand
This is a good method to use when the site is smaller than one acre or located on slopes not easily accessible by a mechanical seeder.
Broadcast seeding by hand produces a more natural-looking appearance since seeds are not planted in rows.
Broadcast Seeding into Cover Crop
Seed a cover crop in areas subject to erosion and ready to plant in midsummer to late summer.
Follow with the native crop seeding in the fall: Following site preparation, sow an oats cover crop (90 lbs/acre). Frost will kill the oats in the fall before they set seed.
In late October, hand seed the native mix into the standing dead oats.
Frost action will work the seed into the soil surface. The dead oats will mat down over the winter, providing good conditions for spring germination and also preventing soil erosion.
- Loosen topsoil to a depth of 3 inches
- Mixing seeds with a slightly dampened filler (sawdust, peat moss, or vermiculite) will result in a more even distribution on the ground
- Divide seeds and spread first half of the mixture
- Spread second half over the same area, walking perpendicular to the first pass
- Seed the nurse cover crop
- Cover seeds with soil equal to twice the thickness of the seed - use a rake or drag the area lightly
- Very small seeds that need light to germinate should be seeded on top and not covered
- Pack the site to ensure good seed-to-soil contact
- Avoid broadcast seeding when the weather is hot and dry, or when soil moisture is low
A careful watering plan will provide the best results:
- No need to water fall seedlings
- During very dry periods, spring and summer seeded sites need to be watered
- Water regularly until seeds have germinated (about 3-4 weeks) Give special care to seeds that have been "moist stratified" or they may go into dormancy or die in the dry soil
- Early morning watering is the best and most efficient approach